Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
The Hard Road to Equal Rights
African Americans Exercise Their Rights
In the decades following the Civil War, former slaves in Arkansas saw African Americans elected to local, state and national offices. Henderson B. Robinson was elected sheriff of Phillips County. James White and William H. Grey of Helena were elected to the 1868 Arkansas Constitutional Convention. They were among the first African Americans to create laws for Arkansas. From 1868 to 1893, African Americans held seats in every Arkansas general assembly.
Former Confederates Retaliate
The rights granted to African Americans proved fleeting. Former Confederates regained the political power they had lost. The laws they passed stripped away or nullified most of the rights African Americans had briefly experienced. For many years, African Americans in much of the United States had very few civil liberties.
The Civil Rights Movement
A new era of change began on December 1, 1955. Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery Alabama, bus sparked the modern Civil Rights movement. In Arkansas, U.S. Army troops escorted the "Little Rock Nine" into the city's Central High School on September 25, 1957. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began
Through the late 1950s and the 1960s, courageous individuals fought to restore the rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. They won that fight. Prejudice remains but change continues. Just how much was demonstrated in 2008, when the people of the United States elected Barack Obama, an African American, 44th President of the United States.
Top left:William Hines Furbush, a Helena photographer represented Phillips and Monroe County in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1872.
Right side (B&W): A boy watches opponents of desegregation march from the Arkansas Capitol to Central High in 1959.
Bottom right: President Barack Obama
Erected 2013 by Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
Location. 34° 30.752′ N, 90° 35.583′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Biscoe Street (U.S. 49) and Little Rock Road. Touch for map. Located within Freedom Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 750 Biscoe Street, Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Freedom in Helena! (here, next to this marker); Helena's Contraband Camps (a few steps from this marker); Becoming Soldiers (within shouting distance of this marker); Seizing Freedom (within shouting distance of this marker); Holding the Little Rock Road (within shouting distance of this marker); African American Troops Held This Ground (within shouting distance of this marker); General J.F. Fagan's Attack (approx. half a mile away); Battery D (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
More about this marker. Once the location of a contraband camp, Freedom Park includes five major exhibits that explore the African-American experience in Civil War Helena. The exhibits follow the journey of the African-Americans from fugitive slave to freedom; and for some, enlistment in the Union Army and participation in the Battle of Helena on July 4, 1863.
Also see . . . Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture article on Civil Rights in Arkansas. (Submitted on September 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Civil Rights • Politics • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 75 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.