After the 1957 desegregation of Central High School, a coalition of blacks and whites banned together to elect school board members who would comply with federal court orders and work to completely desegregate schools in Arkansas’ capital. To fulfill these requests, the school board hired a team of researchers from the University of Oregon to construct the most effective plan to fully desegregate the Little Rock School District.
“The Oregon plan ignited a controversy that threatened investments in white neighborhoods, reinvigorated segregationist sentiments, and permanently divided the city,” said Dr. Barclay Key, professor of American History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
The school board’s attempts outraged the public, and the plan was eventually halted. In 1967, segregationists gained control of the school board, scrapped the plan that the previous board members had established, and for several years following, did little to comply with desegregation laws in order to maintain the status quo for middle and upper class whites.
During his Evenings with History presentation, Key will discuss the Oregon plan, analyze the results of the 1967-68 Little Rock School Board elections, and interpret the long-term consequences for the city’s refusal to desegregate its schools.
The talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, in the Ottenheimer Auditorium in the Historic Arkansas Museum, located at 200 E. Third St. in Little Rock. Refreshments will be served at 7 p.m.
Key joined the UA Little Rock faculty in 2012 after teaching one year at Iowa State University and five years at Western Illinois University. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Alabama, Master of Divinity from David Lipscomb University, and master’s and Ph.D. in history from the University of Florida. Key is the author of “Race and Restoration: Churches of Christ and the African American Freedom Struggle,” and has published chapters in two edited collections from the University Press of Florida.
The Evenings with History series is sponsored by the University History Institute. UA Little Rock students may attend the event at no cost, but admission for faculty, staff, and community members depends on subscription to the institute.