In The Neighborhood

rows of people in white folder chairs listen to a man at a brown lectern in front of a house
Bill Clinton speaking at the dedication of the Bates home as a National Historic Landmark in 2001.

The area in Little Rock historically called “the south end” is framed by Interstate 30 on the east side, Roosevelt Road on the north side, the Arkansas State Fairgrounds on the west side, and Fourche Creek on the south side. This appears to be the first extension of the original city boundaries of Little Rock. City directories show that it has always housed a diverse population with certain periods of time showing large swings in the demographics.

A local resident of this space was recently elevated to a new neighborhood. On May 8, 2024, Daisy Lee Gaston Bates’s likeness was placed in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, representing Arkansas; in 2019, the Arkansas General Assembly approved replacing the statues of Uriah M. Rose and James P. Clarke at the Capitol with statues of civil rights leader Daisy Bates and musician Johnny Cash.

two older African American people and several teenage African Americans sit around a table with plates and candles
Little Rock Nine students eat Thanksgiving dinner with L. C. and Daisy Bates; November 1957. (Left to right): Carlotta Walls, Terrence Roberts, Melba Pattillo, Thelma Mothershed, L. C. Bates, and Daisy Bates.

Daisy and her husband, L. C. Bates, owned the Arkansas State Press, a newspaper focused on the interests of the Black community. She served in leadership positions of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Known for her guidance of the students known as the Little Rock Nine, she is one of the few women to have spoken at the 1963 March on Washington on the National Mall. One of the Little Rock Nine, Thelma Mothershed, lived with her family across the street from Daisy and L. C. Bates, whose home at 1207 W. 28th Street is pictured in the header image of this post. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001 and was later opened to the public as the L. C. and Daisy Bates Museum.

A staff member for the State Press, Preston Toombs did not have children old enough to participate in the effort to integrate Little Rock schools with the filing of the Aaron v. Cooper desegregation case. His cousin Willie Toombs had children whose ages spanned from elementary to high school. Five of his children—Willie Lee, Betty, Shirley, Calvin, and Queen Esther—became plaintiffs in the case. They would soon move to 3123 Marshall, a few blocks from the Bates family.

one African American man leaps holding a basketball while a white man tries to block the shot with his arm
Sidney Moncrief playing basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1980s.

The home next door to Daisy and L.C. Bates was occupied by Dr. Garman Freeman and his wife, Dr. Evangeline Upshur, a married dental team in the city. The current sheriff of Pulaski County, Eric Higgins, is a product of the south end. His family lived at 2720 State Street. Sidney Moncrief, a former Razorback and NBA player lived at 2604 Gaines Street. Dr. Harold Flowers was one of the first pastors of Duncan United Methodist Church at 2624 S. Rock Street. He is the namesake of the Harold Flowers Law Society, a group addressing the legal needs of the Black community. Yvette “Baby Girl” Preyer is a drummer who has toured the world playing with musical legends Michael McDonald, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, and the Bar-Kays. Her family lived at 3114 S. Arch Street.

The Thrasher Boys & Girls Club at 3301 State Street has impacted many lives of athletes playing on every level. The indoor swimming pool under the guidance of Luther Armstrong is responsible for thousands of people learning to swim.

The talent of individuals connected to the south end is as free flowing as the natural spring providing water for generations from its location in the 3000 block of MLK drive (formerly known as High Street).

By Rhonda Stewart, genealogy and local history specialist for the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, housed in the CALS Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art




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