Arkansas to fund statue of Black woman civil rights leader
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas officials plan to use a state grant to help fund the construction of a statue of civil rights leader Daisy Bates in the U.S. Capitol, instead of using that money for an easement at the site of a Confederate statue in downtown Little Rock.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson are working on the agreement that would redirect money from a $100,000 grant the city obtained from the Department of Arkansas Heritage. The money was initially meant to restore the building that now houses the MacArthur Museum of Military History, which is where a Confederate soldier statue was located under a state easement, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Wednesday.
“Governor Hutchinson and I worked on a very amicable agreement that we will continue to work on,” Scott said while updating city directors of the negotiations at a policy meeting Tuesday evening. “This is ... very notable and thoughtful from Governor Hutchinson to transition those dollars to the Daisy Bates statue that will be built in our nation’s Capitol.”
Scott last month ordered the statue to be removed from a downtown park in Little Rock amid protests against racism and police brutality in the city and across the nation that were catalyzed by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was handcuffed, died after a white officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes
Stephanie Jackson, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said details of the agreement haven’t been finalized. It wasn’t immediately clear how much money would go to fund Bates’ statue.
Scott said Bates was a native of Little Rock and one of the only women to speak at the March on Washington in 1963. She was also a mentor to the Little Rock Nine. The group of nine Black teenagers had been escorted by federal troops past an angry white mob and through the doors of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Sept. 25, 1957, three years after the U.S. Supreme Court had deemed segregation in schools unconstitutional.
Last year, Arkansas passed a law advocating for the replacement of century-old statues representing Arkansas in the U.S. Capitol with figures like Bates.
Statues of late attorney and former American Bar Association president Uriah M. Rose and late U.S. Sen. and Gov. James P. Clarke from Arkansas are currently at the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. Clarke’s 1894 speech mentioned the preservation of “white standards of civilization,” while Rose was a secessionist.