Christopher Mercer Jr., Advisor, Central High Integration

Christopher Columbus Mercer Jr. with law student at the rededication of the Six Pioneers Classroom at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.The Little Rock Nine; attorney Christopher Mercer Jr.; publishers and NAACP civil rights activists L.C. Bates and Daisy Bates are the 2012 honorees for the 2nd Annual Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail and Commemoration.

The aforementioned are being honored due to their dedication to obtaining equal rights in education in Arkansas during the integration of Central High School.

Christopher Mercer Jr. began making history prior to the Central High Crisis. In 1949, he entered the University of Arkansas School of Law with classmate George W. B. Haley to become one of only four African Americans admitted to the school. Mercer is considered one of the forebears known as the “Six Pioneers” who successfully integrated the institution.

During the crisis, Mercer was field secretary for the NAACP and personally advised Daisy Bates as an “aide-de-camp.” He drove the Little Rock Nine to and from school during their first semester.

Mercer achieved another first in January 1967, when he became the first African American to be deputy prosecuting attorney in Little Rock. He became the first black person to hold this position in any Southern state. He opened a private practice in Little Rock in 1958 and still practices law to this day. He received the Silas Hunt Legacy Award, from the University of Arkansas in 2011.

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References

Kilpatrick, Judith. Christopher Columbus Mercer Jr. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from http://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?search=1&entryID=734#

Stockley, Grif. Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader from Arkansas. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2005