The UALR Department of History hosted the symposium “Sit-Ins, Freedom Rides, and Beyond: Direct Action and Civil Rights in 1960s Arkansas” on Saturday, July 9, 2011, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at 501 West 9th Street in downtown Little Rock. The symposium was free and open to the public.
The symposium focused on the members of the Arkansas Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (ARSNCC) who led sit-in demonstrations at segregated local business in downtown Little Rock during the 1960s. The activists later referred to themselves as “Arsnick.” Learn more about the SNCC movement in Arkansas.
The symposium included Frank James, a participant in the first “sit-in” and one of the founding members of Arsnick – the Arkansas chapter of the national SNCC – at Philander Smith; Bill Hansen, the first SNCC representative from the national organization to arrive in Arkansas in 1962 and director of SNCC’s Arkansas Project from 1962-1966; and Worth Long, an organizer of the sit-in movement at Philander Smith College from 1960-62 who successfully pressured – along with Hansen – for the desegregation of downtown lunch facilities in 1963.
John Curtis Raines, one of the five Freedom Riders arrested in Little Rock on July 10, 1961, and Laura Foner, one of the few white women who worked with SNCC in Arkansas, also participated.
Symposium sessions explored the activities of the Gould Citizens’ for Progress, a SNCC affiliate, that fought against the town’s “freedom of choice” school attendance plan that hampered efforts to desegregate until the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the use of such plans.
Sanderia Smith, who just completed a novel set in the fictional town of rural Maeby, Arkansas, during the civil rights movement, moderated a panel about the school battle. Panelists included:
Moderator: John A. Kirk, chair and Donaghey Professor of History, UALR; co-editor of Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas
Panelists: Frank James, Worth Long, Freedom Rider John Curtis Raines, Bill Hansen
Moderator: John A. Kirk
Panelists: Bill Hansen, Robert Whitfield, Jim Jones, Howard Himmelbaum
Moderator: Jennifer Jensen Wallach, assistant professor, University of North Texas, Denton; co-editor of Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas
Panelists Michael Simmons, Dwight Williams, Bryan Rybolt
Moderator: Sanderia Smith, author of novel based on experiences of growing up in Gould
Panelists: Lucy Whitfield, Marion Cox, Kenneth Harris, Laura Foner, John Walker