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Social Issues

Participants of the 2017 Craighead County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade walking across the Jonesboro Main St. bridge.
Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

2018 will be an important year for the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  April 2018 will mark the 50th Anniversary of King’s assassination in Memphis, TN.

Communities across the nation have been remembering King’s legacy in January since 1986, and Craighead County has been no exception.  I sat down with one of the organizers of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade for Craighead County, Dr. Lonnie Williams.  He is also the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Arkansas State University.  We talked about the parade, Dr. King’s legacy, and where he was when he heard the tragic news of King's assassination.  You can listen to the conversation below.


Race violence expert Guy Lancaster, who serves as editor of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, has edited a new a collection of essays titled, “Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas 1840 to 1950." The book is published by the University of Arkansas Press.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - More than a dozen Arkansas residents are headed to Washington, D.C., to join thousands from across the country at a rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the group of residents left Little Rock on Tuesday. Officials with the organizing groups United We Dream and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement say they expect up to 17,000 people to attend Wednesday's rally.

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A lot of responses came down after President Trump's decision to end the DACA program that has been protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.  80,000 of those people are in Arkansas.  

Here is Governor Asa Hutchinson's response:

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled for same-sex couples who complained an Arkansas birth certificate law discriminated against them.

The justices on Monday issued an unsigned opinion reversing an Arkansas high court ruling that upheld the law.

Under the law, married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children's birth certificates.

As Republicans in the U.S. Senate near completion of an initial bill that could vastly alter or replace Obamacare, a  group of demonstrators gathered outside the Victory Building in Little Rock. They delivered the offices of Republican Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman each about a thousand post cards from residents in the state. The cards, collected by activists with Arkansas Community Organizations and the group Health Care for America Now, ask the Senators to preserve Medicaid expansion and other benefits made available through federal health law. 

At a brainstorming session after school recently at district headquarters, a group of black school employees sit around a U-shaped table discussing how to become principals. Coach Shawn Burgess, head of human resources at the Pulaski County Special School District, speaks to two women in the room who recently interviewed for leadership positions and didn’t get the job.

“And it’s not what you did wrong, per se. It’s about, ‘When is it my time?’” she said.

“That’s right. Um-hmm. That’s it,” echo the staff.

A wall of police officers stood between two groups of protestors at Riverside Park on the banks of the White River in Batesville on Saturday afternoon, as the groups hurled insult after insult at each other over race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation.

“Our position is that we are here to make sure everyone gets their voice, everybody has the right to free speech, and that nobody gets hurt,” said Police Chief Alan Cockrill.

Cockrill called in all available help, including auxiliary police officers, after news broke that the well-known Billy Roper, a local leader in the white nationalist movement, planned an anti-Sharia law rally at the pavilion at the 

park. 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two northern Arkansas school boards have temporarily ceased prayer before meetings.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2n3xYoE) reports Springdale and Harrison boards are researching the legality of the public prayers after receiving a letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin. The foundation monitors matters regarding separation of church and state.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET Tuesday

With the stroke of a pen on Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson separated a holiday that has for decades celebrated both Martin Luther King Jr. and Gen. Robert E. Lee in the state.

Under the bill that Hutchinson signed into law, King now has the third Monday of January entirely to himself, as dictated by federal law; Lee will now be commemorated in a state holiday on the second Saturday of October.

Seventeen-year old Daniel Montgomery was born a girl but by age eleven knew he's a boy. He's always stood up for himself at school. He's bravely agreed to come forward to talk on the radio about what it's like growing up transgender in Fayetteville's public school system. But first, we discuss that pink tinge in his dyed blond hair?

“Oh that," he says. "That's way faded. I want to dye it half red, half blue but that’s so time consuming." 

Things are hectic for this high school senior with graduation on the horizon and getting ready for college. He wants to study art and German. He plans to teach high school someday. But right now he's being forced, he says, to reckon with the Trump administration's revoking of federal protections for transgender public school student school accommodations — for example bathroom and locker rooms. Montgomery, of course, prefers to use the boys restroom. And on rare occasion, he says, he's hassled. 

Since November, Mexican consulates around the U.S. have reported an increase in unauthorized immigrants venturing in to seek legal advice and update their citizenship papers in case of possible deportation. 

This morning, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling that upheld the voter-approved city law, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The state's highest court ruled that the city law was in conflict with a state law that prohibits cities from enacting protections not already covered by state law.

There are many lessons to be learned from one of the most infamous tweets in social media history.

“It was like misogyny, within the warm glow of self-righteousness,” said Welch author and filmmaker Jon Ronson.

A legal showdown could be brewing over whether a satanic monument should be allowed on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol.

Legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson after the state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to the bill that would require any monuments to first be approved by the legislature before going to the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission. Current law allows proposals to come through either entity, though they ultimately need legislative authorization.

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