Freedom is a Job for All of Us’: The Arkansas StatePress and Divisions in the Black Community During the 1957-59 School Crisis

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The Howard Journal of Communications



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This historiographical analysis examines the Arkansas State Press' portrayal of divisions in the Black community during the Little Rock school integration crisis of 1957–59. Many local Blacks supported school integration, but others favored segregation or worried about pushing too hard and sparking backlash—a fact that is often overlooked in discussions of the crisis. From a journalist's perspective, some of the disagreements deserved coverage. From a civil rights strategist's perspective, there was value in presenting a unified front to those opposed to integration. In the State Press, a Black weekly based in Little Rock, crusading editor and publisher L. C. Bates struck a balance that allowed some of both. Through praise for those who fought for integration, morality tales, criticism coupled with advice and examples, and support of the NAACP as the leader of the Black community, Bates acknowledged divisions within the Black community in ways that emphasized his core messages of unity and empowerment.

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