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Showing Harrison in AR...

Basic Information
Type of PlaceIndependent City or Town
Metro Area?Independent City or Town
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status
Confirmed Sundown Town?Surely
Year of Greatest Interest
Was there an ordinance?Don't Know
Sign?Don't Know
Still Sundown?We Have Data on How it Changed

Census Information
TotalWhiteBlackAsianNativeHispanicOtherBHshld
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
19606,5800
19707,2391
1980
19909,2220
200012,152144

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Method of Exclusion
Violent Expulsion;Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s).
Unknown

Group(s) Excluded
Black

Comments
A minor crime, alleged breaking and entering, prompted a white mob on October 2, 1905, to take African American prisoners from the jail, whip them, order them to leave town, then burn out several black homes, shoot out the windows of many other black homes, and warn every African American to leave town that night. "About thirty blacks, who were very well-connected, stayed in Harrison, although they no longer had a church or a school." Then, in 1909, a second mob attempted to lynch a young black man already sentenced to death for rape. As Jacqueline Froelich and David Zimmermann tell it, this mob "completed what had been left unfinished by the first riot." Every African American fled Harrison, which has remained a sundown town to this day. "Our reputation is so bad that most black people will not even stop here to buy gasoline or have lunch. I've talked with black kids who have come here several times to play in athletic tournaments. They say they've always been treated well but the place still scares the hell out of them." -Harrison newspaper reporter "Fayetteville's [a nearby interracial town] Ramay Junior High School football team, the Indians, had traveled to Boone County to play against the Harrison Goblins. The Indians beat the Goblins. After the game, several of the Fayetteville black athletes claimed they were racially harassed. "'I watched as several of the 8th grade Goblins refused to shake hands with our black players,' said Ken Ball, a Fayetteville accountant and father traveling with the team. 'Or they slapped our boys' hands real hard.' The Indians left to celebrate their win at a local restaurant. There, Ken Ball watched as a large black fullback, a 9th grader, was called 'coon' by a white Harrison player. "'Then, as the boys were waiting in line to order their burgers, a kid in a white sheet walked through the door,' Ball said. 'One of my black players was so afraid, he ran into the bathroom. In his mind all he could see was the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.' The Ramay Indians walked out. They never did order their food. "All future games with Harrison were canceled. Ball said that Fayetteville High School basketball coaches had long ago terminated any competition in Harrison, refusing to expose their black players to the town's hostile atmosphere. "'This has been going on for 40 years,' Ball said. 'Back in the day when I played football, the black players on my junior high team were afraid to go to Harrison, but they showed up and played real hard. The more they were called names, the more we ran the score up.'" -from a 2003 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Some residents of Harrison have begun more openly confronting and discussing their town's racist reputation. The local paper began ran a series stories on Harrison's racist history and current reputation. 13 Harrison pastors from various churches drafted a statement, acknowledging Harrison's reputation, its historical basis, and a desire to change. Unfortunately, some outspoken white racists have been disagreeing quite vocally. "On Christmas [2005] the Harrison Daily Times published the wedding photograph of an educated and attractive couple originally from Lowell who live and work in Fayetteville and Springdale [nearby towns]. The bride, whose parents are from Harrison, is white and the groom is black. Across much of 2006 America, interracial marriage, while not the norm, still has become relatively commonplace. But this particular photograph drew a letter to the editor on Jan. 8. Among other comments, [the writer] said that the editor should be ashamed of glorifying this marriage by publishing a photograph of the happy interracial couple, 'especially on the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ... God created different races for a reason, and to mix them up is a slap in the face to him,' [he] wrote. 'It is sad that we have become so complacent in allowing the filth that has crept into our society. Please do not offend this Christian area with any more pictures of this nature.'" "[Following a barrage of letters to the editor] more than a thousand area residents signed two full, facing pages in the newspaper denouncing the 'blatant racism and bigotry' of a relative few in the region while embracing 'respect, harmony and acceptance of all people.'" -Harrison resident
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