A CLOSER LOOK: the future of confederate monuments in Arkansas

A Closer Look
Confederate Monument LR AR

Monument to Confederate Women, Arkansas State Capitol grounds, Little Rock. Photo by Ninette Sosa, 6/2020.

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — A push to remove Confederate statues, across the country, has increased since the death of George Floyd. He’s the man who died while in police custody in Minnesota on May 25, 2020.

In Arkansas, there are 60 remaining Confederate monuments/symbols in the state — of 64. Arkansas ranks second, of five states, with the highest percentage of remaining symbols.

  • South Carolina, 98%
  • Arkansas, 96%
  • West Virginia/Mississippi, 95% each
  • Georgia, 94%

The top Confederates with statues, roads, and schools are Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson.

Coming in sixth with the most monuments is Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general who was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Forrest City, Arkansas, is named after him. He used the location to finish a railroad right after the Civil War.

STATUES REMOVED IN ARKANSAS

  • July 2020: The City of Little Rock removed a David O. Dodd granite monument and bench from outside the Jefferson County Courthouse (relocated there in 1970). The United Daughters of the Confederacy unveiled the monument in 1910 at Pine Bluff High School.
  • June 2020: Memorial to Company A, Capitol Guards at MacArthur Park. The bronze sculpture of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle in defensive stance was erected in 1905 and the United Daughters of the Confederacy began the effort. The statue is being stored until a new home can be found.
  • 2019: Attorney Uriah Milton Rose, the Confederacy’s state historian, and Governor James Paul Clark, who sided with the Confederacy, statues were removed from the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. Replacing those statues are country singer Johnny Cash and civil rights leader Daisy Bates.

Nationally, 104 Confederate symbols have been removed, and more than 1,600 remain in the U.S., according to BeenVerified, a team that gathers public information.

Greg Rones/Shutterstock. Graphic: Nathaniel Blum

In Little Rock, there are no plans to remove the three Confederate monuments at the State Capitol. “Any monument removal at the Capitol requires approval by the Legislature,” said Secretary of State Press Secretary Chris Powell.

On Friday, July 31, Arkansas Capitol Police put up a fence around a Confederate statue that’s on the state grounds in anticipation of a Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday.

During Friday’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Governor Asa Hutchinson reiterated that a decision to remove the monument needs legislative approval.

“Debate is the right process, and if it can lead to action then that’s the right process,” he said. “Destruction is the wrong way to go about it. Obviously we want to protect public property.”

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS MONUMENT

The Confederate soldier statue at Bentonville Square, erected in 1908, will be moved to a new private park, named James H. Berry Park, in Bentonville, sometime in August. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) Arkansas division will retain ownership of the statue after it is moved.

Confederate Monument_1554494572026.jpg.jpg
Confederate soldier monument in Bentonville Square, erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A plaque was later added honoring James Henderson Berry, a Confederate soldier who would become the first Arkansas Governor from Benton County.

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program State Review Board will meet online, Wednesday, August 5. Relocating the monument is on the agenda. “There is a national process for the relocation of the statue,” said attorney Joey McCutchen, who represents the UDC’s Arkansas chapter. “Once the state makes a decision, then it’s forwarded to the National Parks Service in Washington and they must respond within 45 days.”

The statue has been on the National Register of Historic Places for more than two decades.

The park will be next to the Bentonville Cemetery, 400 SW F Street, where former Gov. Berry is buried.

McCutchen described the park as an experience for visitors. In addition to the monument, the plan is to have a Wall of Honor, water feature, education display, a bronze replica of the First National Flag of the Confederacy, fencing, security, lighting, and a parking lot.

The goal is “preserving history, education, and remembrance,” said McCutchen.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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