state capitol

Mixed Company: When Dolls Come Out To Mingle

Hoxie: Right in '55

From its founding in the 1880s until ten years after the end of World War II, the northeast Arkansas town of Hoxie was an agricultural town, a railroad town, a cotton market town.  Its greatest assets were its location, at the junction of two railroads, the fertile farmland around it and its children, served by a school system that was a source of community pride.

In July 1955, however, Hoxie and its schools became objects of national attention. After the local school board moved to end racial segregation, acting on moral, legal and practical considerations, Hoxie became the object of attempts by outside forces to influence its path. “Remember Hoxie” became a rallying cry for proponents of states' rights and continued segregation: the incident spurred a surge of white activism and helped boom the political career of James D. “Justice Jim” Johnson. In the end, though, the Hoxie schools stayed the course and remained integrated.  Over time, Hoxie’s notoriety faded, especially as the events of 1957 in Little Rock, which had been foreshadowed by the Hoxie controversy, unfolded.

“Hoxie: Right in ’55,” The Arkansas Capitol’s fall exhibit, recalls the saga of how this Arkansas town dealt with changing law and changing times, and what came of it.  Vintage images and memorabilia of Hoxie and its schools, as well as documentary materials from the Arkansas State Archives, tell the stories of the town and the main actors in what one historian styled “the Hoxie imbroglio.” The exhibit ends by suggesting some consequences, including current efforts by Hoxie community members to preserve, interpret and help spread understanding of what happened in their town.

Today, more than six decades and more since Hoxie’s minutes of fame, community members of the Hoxie: The First Stand committee are working to create a museum that will preserve memories of the Hoxie desegregation and interpret the story for future generations. In 1955, the Hoxie school board, students, staff and, ultimately, the town, chose the right.  That choice would create echoes far beyond the bounds of the Hoxie school district.  In “Hoxie: Right in ’55,” we remember the events of 1955 and salute those who would preserve those memories as a legacy for the Hoxie of days to come.

Let’s Ride: Mountain Biking in the State Parks of Arkansas

Once upon a time, all bicycles were, really, “dirt bikes.”  In cycling’s earliest days, wheelmen—and women--followed uneven gravel roads and rough paths, both to get from point “a” to point “b” and for the sheer joy of the ride.  Today, many cyclists have rediscovered the fun and challenges of unpaved riding, and Arkansas’s state parks offer a variety of such opportunities. This summer, the Arkansas State Capitol’s first-floor galleries feature “Let’s Ride: Mountain Biking in the State Parks of Arkansas,” a celebration of adventurous cycling around the Natural State.

Created by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism in collaboration with the Secretary of State’s office, “Let’s Ride” highlights the state parks’ connection to the beginnings of mountain biking in Arkansas: two staffers at Devil’s Den State Park helped organize the state’s first mountain bike gathering, the Ozark Mountain Bike Festival, at Devil’s Den in 1989.  Today, state parks feature mountain bike trails for cyclists of all skill levels, ranging from beginner routes to rocky advanced-level “technical” trails. The Delta Heritage Trail, a state park venture, is a crushed limestone rail-to-trail path that when completed will offer a nearly eighty-five mile “gravel grinding” ride through the historic and scenic heart of the state’s southeastern quarter.

The exhibit includes scenes from trails statewide, as well as examples of the two-wheeled technology suited for them: one cycle, a 1980s-vintage GT “Karakoram,” is a veteran of the original 1989 Devil’s Den event.  Others, loaned by area cycle shops and distributors, illustrate the variety of modern-day mountain cycles. A fourth is “all business”: a law enforcement-spec bike used by Arkansas park rangers.

To learn more about mountain biking opportunities in the state parks, visit: https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/biking/.