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Brown Bag Lunch Lecture - Desegregating Downtown Little Rock: 1960--1963

Philander Smith College students first attempted to desegregate the lunch counters in downtown Little Rock in March and April of 1960. Their efforts failed. It was not until the Arkansas Council on Human Relations (ACHR) requested the help of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1962 that integration of public facilities would finally come to Little Rock. This lecture will examine the Philander Smith College students’ struggle to desegregate the lunch counters from 1960 to January 1963, when public facilities began integrating in Little Rock. The role of local organizations, national civil rights organizations, law enforcement, and media will be assessed to explain how integration finally occurred in the city.

Speaker Sarah Riva received her undergraduate degree at Royal Holloway, University of London and is currently a graduate student in the Public History M.A. program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Riva is a graduate assistant for the Institute on Race and Ethnicity. An article based on her research won the Arkansas Historical Associations’ Lucille Westbrook Local History Award in 2012 and was published in the autumn volume of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly.

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