50th Anniversary of Downtown Little Rock Desegregation


The UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity will partner with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of downtown Little Rock businesses from 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, at the Chamber.

This event is part of the Chamber’s 31st Annual Minority Enterprise Development Week and will include a public unveiling of the markers, reception, and the seminar, “Developing Future Leaders: How Strong Mentors Can Increase Diversity in Leadership Positions.”

Eleven  individuals from the Council on Community Affairs, Downtown Negotiating Committee, and Philander Smith College, will be honored with bronze markers placed on the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail in front of the Chamber. This will mark the third year of the Civil Rights Heritage Commemoration.

In 1963, this diverse group made up of members from COCA, DNC, and students from Philander Smith College worked together to plan a peaceful integration of downtown retail and restaurant establishments. Because of their efforts and others, by the end of 1963 most of the downtown retail businesses and restaurants had integrated.

2013 Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail Honorees

The following individuals will be honored:

  • Dr. Garman P. Freeman, COCA
  • Dr. Morris A. Jackson, COCA
  • William Starr Mitchell, DNC
  • James H. Penick, DNC
  • Arthur Phillips, DNC
  • Rev. Negail Riley, Pastor, Wesley Chapel at Philander Smith College; COCA
  • Bert Strauss, Philander Smith College student; DNC
  • Ozell Sutton, COCA
  • Dr. William H. Townsend, COCA
  • Dr. Evangeline Upshur, COCA
  • B. Finley Vinson, DNC

Event Details

Saturday, September 21, 201310:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce (See for directions and parking information)

Public Commemoration Ceremony – 10:30 a.m.
Civil Rights Heritage Markers Unveiling

Reception – 11 a.m.

Seminar – 12:30 – 2 p.m.
Developing Future Leaders: How Strong Mentors Can Increase Diversity in Leadership Positions

*Please note: All events are open to the public. Because of limited seating, registration is required for the seminar ONLY.

However, online registration for the seminar is now closed. You are welcome to come in person the day of event and register onsite.

Seminar and Additional Information

The day’s activities will include a public unveiling of the markers, reception, and seminar. We will explore the historical significance of the 1963 integration, and we will also address current diversity issues in business. During the seminar, a panel of business professionals will discuss ways to increase the number of minorities in positions of leadership.

The seminar will include an historical overview of desegregation activities in 1963 by Dr. John Kirk, UALR Donaghey Professor and Chair of the History Department, followed by a panel discussion of business professionals, some of whom were mentored by members of the DNC.

The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail was established to raise awareness about the legacy of the civil rights movement in Arkansas. A series of bronze markers rest in the sidewalk along Markham Street in downtown Little Rock beginning at the Old State House, stretching to the Statehouse Convention Center, and eventually to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and beyond.

The purpose of the Minority Enterprise Development Week is to celebrate and grow minority businesses in the Little Rock region.

For more information about the Civil Rights Heritage Commemoration, contact us at race-ethnicity@ualr.edu or by phone at 501.569.8932.

For more information about Minority Enterprise Development Week, contact Carmen Parks at 501.377.6013.

Thank you to our 2013 Sponsors.