To the average person, Arkansas may seem like a place where nothing happens. Oh, if that were only the case and we residents of the Natural State could live the simple, easy life all the time. We might fly under the radar at times and be a flyover state to you, but if you look closer you’ll find that Arkansas has been on the map and under the social microscope quite a few times throughout the years.
11. The West Memphis Three Are Free
The controversial case of the West Memphis Three (Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin) came to a legal close in 2011 after the three defendants negotiated plea bargains with prosecutors. For nearly 20 years the three men were incarcerated for the 1993 murders of three young West Memphis boys. For many of those years the West Memphis Three were supported by influential celebrities and rock musicians who helped spread word about the case on a national level and claiming the innocence of the accused.
10. The Shame Of Josh Duggar
Just when you think you know a guy, right Huckabee? There's not much good I have to say about Josh Duggar, so I won't say much at all. It's really been a bad year for him, though. Too bad he had to make the rest of Arkansas look bad by being famous and scandalous--two things that Arkansas has had enough of out of politicians for ages. Now we have reality stars to worry about tarnishing our good name.
9. 2008 Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak
It's almost always national news whenever there's a tornado outbreak around Arkansas that does major damage. The tornadoes that hit north central Arkansas on February 5, 2008 destroyed the town of Atkins and made headlines. The attention was based not only on the storm's destructiveness, but also because the weather affected the primary elections being held in Arkansas, as well as several other affected states for the upcoming presidential election.
8. Elaine Race Riots
One of many tragic racially motivated events in 1919, the massacre in Elaine took place when black farmers in the area unionized and spoke out against unfair payment practices. The complaint of the farmers was sorely mistaken as an uprising, and a conflict that broke out at a meeting when local farmers challenged the union led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent farmers. The riot was covered by The New York Times and the cases of those who were prosecuted were heard (and convictions later overturned) by the U.S. Supreme Court.
7. HBO's "Gang Wars: Bangin' In Little Rock"
The Little Rock shown in the 1994 HBO documentary is different from what you'll see today. America became aware of the violence and gang problems in the capital city when this program originally aired. For years afterward Little Rock was labeled as a hotbed for gang activity, and only in recent years has the violence moved away from the areas shown in the documentary.
6. 1994 NCAA Champions - Your Arkansas Razorbacks
Look at those Hogs! We love them every year, but any Razorback lover will tell you how good 1994 felt. Nolan Richardson led the Razorbacks to win the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament championship, and if you were around in those days you'll remember exactly where you were and how incredibly proud you felt.
5. Gay Marriage In Eureka Springs
As small as Eureka Springs is, you wouldn't think it'd be the center of national attention. However, the town has been mentioned in the U.S. media for nearly a decade because of its relaxed stance on domestic partnerships and its status as the first Arkansas city to endorse marriage for same-sex couples.
4. Governor Asa Hutchison Refuses Syrian Refugees
This is the most recent event where Arkansas has had national attention. The announcement made days after the terrorist attacks in Paris led Governor Asa Hutchison, along with several other US governors, to refuse entry to Syrian refugees. The unprecedented decision was made in order to protect residents from possible terrorist attacks. Arkansas, along with the rest of the country, will have to see how effective the measure will be.
3. Westside Middle School Shootings
Before there was Columbine, there was Jonesboro. Americans were shocked in March 1998 when two middle school boys stole nine weapons and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition from a relative's home and terrorized Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, killing four students and a teacher, and destroying the image that something so terrible could never happen in Arkansas.
2. Clinton's First Presidential Campaign
For those that think Trump's current Presidential campaign is outrageous, just think of all the dirt that shook loose when then-governor Bill Clinton made his first run for the White House. The early part of the '90s saw Clinton's womanizing reputation made as several fame-seeking ladies came forth to admit affairs with the Arkansas governor--and American tabloids loved it. All eyes were on the Natural State at that time as people wondered what was really going on down here while Clinton was governor.
1. Central High Crisis
One of the state's most historic and controversial events, the process of integrating Little Rock's Central High School in 1957 was a difficult and divisive time in Arkansas history. The world watched as the federal government clashed with state government to the point of military intervention as nine black Little Rock students boldly changed history just by sitting in classes with fellow students of another race.
There’s probably a lot more in our state’s future that will capture the country’s attention and get the nation talking, no doubt. In the meantime, where were you when these events happened, Arkansas? Tell us how you felt about these moments and more in the comments!