Little Rock, AR
The Little Rock Ghetto Story
Being the largest city in the state of Arkansas, the story of the Little Rock ghetto is more than the “Little Rock Nine” of the integration at Central High or the street documentary of “Bangin’ In Little Rock”.
Population: Around 200,000
Percentage African-American: 42%
Rank in State: Arkansas’ largest city
Poverty Rate: 19% / Average Income: $30,000
Crime Rate: 759.7 compared to National Average of 280.5
During the 1950s, Jim Crow laws and segregation were slowly coming to an end as Little Rock was starting the process of becoming more integrated.
Despite the fact that many people including public officials did their best to prevent the Little Rock black population from going to school or living in the city’s white community.
The city of North Little Rock began growing between the 1940s and 1960s, while officially becoming a city that separated itself from the larger city of Little Rock during the early 1900s.
Urban renewal of Little Rock during the 1950s and 60s, with the building of I-630 and I-30, helped the communities of Little Rock to transform.
As the city was booming and construction was going on around the city, the inner city of Little Rock started to become predominantly black as white flight was moving people, businesses, and a tax base towards West Little Rock.
The building of the interstate helped the move into the suburbs of West Little Rock easier for white families, allowing them to leave parts of the West End and the South End.
Slum Clearance, the process of building the highway, destroyed key parts of the black community on the city’s South End and East End.
The building of housing projects, after the Federal Housing Act of 1949 passed, that were placed on the outskirts of the city gave reasons for large sections of the black community to be destroyed with the claim that these neighborhoods were rundown.
Another impact on the community was real estate agents that helped white families to move into West Little Rock, north of I-630, while redlining black families from only living in the city’s West End, South End, and East Side.
Also, after the integration of schools with the “Little Rock Nine” at Central High School, the city would begin to build private and charter schools, mostly in West Little Rock.
‘Hoods and Communities
In the city of Little Rock the black community was based around West 9th Street.
Most of the early black communities were on the East End and in the South End with today’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive being the once racial dividing line that separated the black and white communities.
The original black community of North Little Rock was east of I-30, with some of the first communities being areas like Dixie, followed by neighborhoods like Rose City.
Around the 1960s and 1970s, the Little Rock black population began to expand into other parts of North Little Rock, especially around Pike Avenue or Camp Robinson Road.
By the 1970s and 80s, most of the neighborhoods in Little Rock’s East End / East Side, West End, SouthWest, South End, and North Little Rock were home to mostly all of the Little Rock black population.
Today, most of the original housing projects have been rebuilt and the original community of the East End has had half of the neighborhood demolished with the expansion of the airport.
Currently, many people are moving farther from the central part of Little Rock into areas and sections of the West Side or SouthWest Little Rock.
Starting in the 1980s and 1990s Little Rock gangs began to become heavily active within the streets of both Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Most of the city of Little Rock was Bloods affiliated, like John Barrow aka Lime Hood, the West End home to the once Highland Park projects, the South End, and one of the city’s roughest areas the East End.
Only areas of the Little Rock ghetto like College Station, also known as CSC or BuccTown, 23rd and Wolfe Street, or parts of the SouthWest had other gang affiliations.
While in the North Little Rock ghetto, which has neighborhoods like Eastgate, MacSide, Off Pike, and many more, had affiliations of the Black Disciples and the Gangsta Disciples.
With some people still being affiliated, gangs in the Little Rock ghetto have become less active starting around the late 90s and into the 2000s.
*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.
History Sources of Little Rock:
Kirk, John and Porter, Jess. “The Roots of Little Rock’s Segregated Neighborhoods. Arkansas Times, 10 July 2014.
Semuels, Alana. “How Segregation Has Persisted in Little Rock”. The Atlantic.com, 27 April 2016.