Date of Graduation

8-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

History

Advisor

Calvin White

Committee Member

Caree Banton

Second Committee Member

Jeannie Whayne

Keywords

Race and Segregation, Southern History, Urban Studies

Abstract

Federal urban renewal projects changed the landscape of numerous American cities throughoutthe twentieth century. Many of these projects worked cohesively in tandem with discriminatory urban planning policies such as redlining. The conclusions of this project demonstrate how U.S. Interstate 630 (I-630) intentionally re-segregated Arkansas' capital city, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 national desegregation order and the infamous desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. I further contend that I-630 was constructed using the racialized language and tactics of urban renewal and was fundamental to improving Little Rock’s national reputation by purging the city's social memory and legacy of racial violence. Planning strategies elucidated the local, state, and federal confluence of power systems responsible for transforming urban spaces in Little Rock to the aims of white supremacy. This study illuminates the how the history of modern Little Rock was deliberately hidden in plain sight, and why federal interstate construction demonstrated dynamic capacity as an instrument of state will to form urban black geographies.

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