History of Arkansas’ All-Black High School Sports Association

Below are the earliest known references to the Arkansas Colored Athletic Association, which was the governing body for sports between the state’s all-black high schools before the 1966 integration into what’s now the Arkansas Activities Association.

By that time the 1960s rolled around, the predominantly-black schools’  association was called the Arkansas State Athletics Association, while the predominantly-white schools belonged to the Arkansas Athletics Association.

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Arkansas Gazette September 25, 1938 – Page 13

The Dunbar High School (Negro) Bearcats will play Morrilton (Negro) High School eleven in their first home game of the season at Kavanaugh Field Friday afternoon. The Dunbar team defeated Texarkana (Tex.), 14 to 6, at Texarkana last week.

J.M. Sutton, Morrilton mentor [coach], is a former Dunbar athlete. Sutton is a graduate of the Tuskogee Institute.

A meeting of the Arkansas Colored Athletic Association was held at Dunbar High School yesterday. They were: Pine Street of Conway, Miller High of Helena, Corbin of Pine Bluff, Langston of Hot Springs and Morrilton.

Date: Sunday, March 19, 1939   Paper: Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas)   Page: 35 

The first annual Arkansas Colored Athletic Association basketball tournament will be held at Arkansas AM and N College, Pine Bluff, March 24 and 25. The conference now in its third year, has nine of the outstanding high schools on its membership roll. Teams that will compete for the first conference crown are Camden, Corbin, Dunbar, Fargo, Merrill, Morrilton, Langston, Conway and Jonesboro.

Date: December 9, 1940 Paper: Hope Star Page 6

The Yerger football team, Hope and Corbin High of Pine Bluff dominated all-state negro selections of the Arkansas Colored Athletic Association announced Saturday. Yerger headed the list with four all-state placements:

O.W. Jackson of Dunbar was reelected president of the association for the first consecutive year. Other officers elected were: C.W. Dawson of Corbin High, vice president, and A. Logan of Langston High, secretary-treasurer.

Corbin High is recognized as the unofficial conference champions.

Date: Sunday, March 8, 1942   Paper: Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas)   Page: 35  

The Arkansas Colored Athletic Association will hold its annual basket ball [sic] tournament at Cotton Plant Saturday. The first game will start at 10 a.m.

The association is composed of the 18 leading high schools of the state. The winner will be awarded the state championship trophy.

The schools participating are Augusta, Blevins, Childress, Camden, Corbin, Cotton Plant, Dunbar, Fargo, Jones, Langston, McRae, Merrill, Miller, Morrilton, Moton, El Dorado, Texarkana and Yerger.

Date: Saturday, February 19, 1944   Paper: Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas)   Page: 7  

First round play was completed in the Arkansas Colored Athletic Association basket ball tournament at Jones High, North Little Rock, yesterday. Results in the girls division:

Merrill High 13, Stuttgart 11

Dunbar 21, Fort Smith 12

Augusta 28, Cotton Plant Vocational 12

Jones 17, Morrilton 5

Menissee [Menifee] 12, Helena 5

Results in the Boys Division:

Carbin [Corbin] 23, Fort Smith 14

Jones 47, Augusta 18

Cotton Plant Academy 22, Cotton Plant Vocational 10

Menissee [Menifee] 24, Merrill 18

Stuttgart 20, Helena

10

The Arkansas Activities Association Should Integrate Its Record Book

5a boys
Hall’s Evan James, center, is surrounded by teammates after making a last second basket to beat Jonesboro 32-31 in the 6A boys high school championship. It was the fourth straight title for LR Hall, a feat only accomplished by two other programs – Scipio Jones and LR Central. Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

In the scope of world history, high school sports isn’t all that significant.

You could study a 1,001 more subjects which have more of an effect on our everyday lives. My wife, who works as a pediatrician, deals with more life and death matters in the course of half of a minute than I will in a lifetime of work.

So there may only be a handful of people who care that a large part of Arkansas’ high school history is kept in the dark almost every time a major record is set.

Last year, I discussed this issue in the context of career scoring records set in basketball. The essential issue was that the Arkansas Activities Association only recognizes records that were set by the white student-athletes – but not black student-athletes – who played before integration.

Before the school integration that swept through the state in the late 1960s, there were two state athletic associations – one for whites, the other for blacks. Black students ultimately joined the white students in what had been the white students’ schools, leaving the black schools – typically in worse shape – behind. The same happened with the athletic associations. If the black athletic association kept its own records (it is unclear that such records were ever kept and if they still exist), then they have long been lost.

All that remain, officially, are the records that were kept in by what had been the all-white Arkansas Athletics Association.

This became most evident on Saturday, when Little Rock Hall High won its fourth consecutive state basketball title. This is a very rare Continue reading The Arkansas Activities Association Should Integrate Its Record Book

Making the Cut: The Vanishing Legacy of Arkansas’ All-Black Sports

During illustrious high school careers, All-Americans Eddie Miles and Jackie Ridgle took center stage in nearly every game they played. In a recent Associated Press list, though, they don’t even get off the bench. 

It may be a tired truism,  but those in power determine the history which will be passed down to future generations.

Eddie Miles should be included among the state's official list of 2,000 point scorers in prep basketball.

Segregation between races was Arkansas’ status quo for 120 years before the Civil Rights movement began picking up speed in the state during during the mid-1950s.  In the state’s northeast corner, the Hoxie school district became the state’s first K-12 institution to integrate in 1955. Two years later, the Little Rock Central High crisis was broadcast to every corner of the world.

A half century later, the accomplishments of the brave pioneers in these stories are now threaded into the state’s official history – into its textbooks, holidays and cultural encyclopedia.

It took another decade, but pioneers also integrated the state’s basketball courts and football fields. I was reminded of their legacy when last week when I saw a news brief about a Newport teenager becoming the state’s fourth basketball player to score 2,000 points in a high school career. The Associated Press fired this out to multiple news outlets in a couple paragraphs, wiped its hands and was done with it. A seemingly simple milestone duly recorded for posterity, then on to the next newsmakers.

But the full story doesn’t end there.

Continue reading Making the Cut: The Vanishing Legacy of Arkansas’ All-Black Sports