Home » Arkansas » Rogers

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.



Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Yes, Strong Oral Tradition
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1930 3,554 0
1940 3,550 0
1950 4,962 1
1960 5,700 1
1970 11,050 0
1990 24,692 16
2000 38,829 33,296 184 556 407 7,490 3,360

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Private Bad Behavior
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


“Roy Reed, an Arkansas Gazette reporter, who later went on to write for the New York Times, …[g]rowing up in Hot Springs, Reed remembers a black man called %u201CBob%u201D who was short and stocky, but even in his 60%u2019s, still of athletic build. The word in town was that Bob had once been hired by the city of Rodgers to patrol the train station to make sure that no black passengers alighted there. If they did, Bob%u2019s job was to persuade them that they should get back on the train before it left the station. If they still did not take the hint, it was Bob%u2019s job to physically make sure that they complied with his request.” — John A. Kirk, “‘No Malaria, No Mosquitoes, No Negroes’: Constructing a History of Race and Ethnic Relations in Northwest Arkansas,” paper given at seminar, U of AR Fayetteville.

“A Bentonville contractor was building one of the first brick business houses here [in Rogers] and he brought with him a colored man to carry the mortar hod, figuring that no white man would want to do such heavy, menial labor.

“A group of young men were gathered in the Blue saloon when the Negro entered, probably looking for his employer. The group seized the
Negro and began telling what they were going to do with him. A well had been started at the rear of a business house but after going down some feet, the work was halted and the hole covered with planks.

“It was suggested they drop the Negro in the old well after they had hanged him but others objected on the grounds that the odor from the ones already planted there was becoming objectional to the neighborhood. As some of the
men pulled aside the planks to investigate, the ones holding the trembling Negro loosened their grip on
their victim.

“It was the chance for escape he had been
seeking, and in a matter of seconds he was just a
blur on the horizon, and he never did return to
Rogers. It was just another of the incidents that
gave all colored people good excuses for not
stopping here…
“However, a group of tough railroad
tracklayers did work in Rogers, were never
threatened. Burly. Scaring one Negro might be fun
but scaring a gang of them armed with razors,
brass knucks, and maybe a gun, was quite a horse
of another color.
“A Fort Smith federal judge once bitterly
criticized Rogers and its people for its treatment of
the colored people, but when it came to a
showdown he was unable to cite a single instance
where one of them had been injured or mistreated
“A hotel in Rogers employs a colored boy to
wait on the tables and one night recently some
person posted a notice on the gate post warning
the proprietor to discharge the boy or steps would
be taken to rid the town of his presence. The notice
was signed ‘citizens.’
“The sending of colored troops here by the
war department to garrison Fort Logan H. Roots
would have been a grave mistake.”
– Rogers resident

“My husband managed a store in our local
mall several years ago. He related to me that it was
not uncommon for folks moving down here from
the Chicago area to retire to openly remark that one
attraction of the Rogers area was that there were no
– local historian and resident of Rogers.

This historian provided various brochures and
newspaper clippings highlighting Roger’s racially
exclusive past:
1910 brochure for Rogers: “We have neither
Negroes, nor saloons, nor gambling halls, nor a
tough element.”
“In 1916 a promotional editorial reassured
prospective homeseekers that there ‘is not a
colored person residing within the city limits’ of
Rogers. That editorial went on to say, ‘there is no
ban against them, but they just don’t like the
surroundings and upon arriving here depart as
quietly as they came.’ Blacks did visit Rogers on
business and to work on construction crews or for
the railroad. Scattered newspaper accounts indicate
that they were sometimes made to feel most
unwelcome. A black worker seeking his employer in
a local saloon was frightened by customers who
threatened to throw him in a well…”
“A 1917 promotional article for Rogers
reassured prospective newcomers that the foreign-
born as well as the black populations were
In 1962, Fats Domino played in Rogers,
prompting the local paper to note, “The city which
once had signs posted at the city limits and at the
bus and rail terminals boasting ‘Nigger, You Better
Not Let the Sun Set On You in Rogers,’ was hosting
its first top name entertainer – a Negro – at
night!” The paper also reported that, while many
threats of violence were reported, police were on
hand during the concert as a “preventative”
measure. “No incidents occurred.”
The paper also reported that “In anticipation
of possible problems should Domino attract a large
Negro following from nearby Fayetteville, the
closest Northwest Arkansas city which has any
sizeable Negro population, Police Chief Hugh]
Basse had ordered segregated seating. However,
the performance was presented to an all-white
audience at both programs. No Negroes appeared.”