African Americans in Arkansas, 1870 TO 1970
The experience of African Americans in Arkansas is as varied as the landscape of the state. From the fields of the Delta to the industries of southern and western Arkansas to the hustle and bustle of urban centers, the story of black Arkansans is rich in history and deeply rooted in heritage.
The Emancipation Proclamation and the arrival of federal troops in 1863 meant the abolition of slavery in Arkansas. The promised freedom was curtailed by racial discrimination and a political system that failed to protect the political, social and economic rights of black Arkansans.
Active in civil rights, education, church organizations, recreational activities and politics, black Arkansans have made an indelible mark on the state. Arkansans such as James T. White of Phillips County, who was elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in 1871, W. Harold Flowers, a lawyer from Pine Bluff who championed the right to vote, and Edith Irby, the first African American to graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School, have led by example and inspired generations of black Arkansans. These stories and countless others make up the fabric of Arkansas's African American history.
African Americans in Arkansas Brochure