Little Rock Housing Authority
The Little Rock Housing Authority (LRHA) was chartered through the efforts of Adolphine Terry, Erle Chambers, and Edwin Dunaway in 1937. The initial purpose of the association was to capture some of the federal dollars available for "slum clearance" under the 1937 federal Housing Authority Act.
The group was initially opposed by Little Rock mayor J. V. Satterfield Jr. and Redding Stevenson of the Little Rock Realtors Association. Terry and Dunaway managed to persuade others that the federal funds involved would be a boon to the city.
In 1950 members of the LRHA pushed local citizens to match a local bond issue for improvements to black-only Gillam Park to "urban renewal" funds available under Title I of the Housing Act of 1949. Debate over the proposal was vigorous, rivaling the debate over integration later in the decade. Conservatives dubbed urban renewal "socialistic." Liberals called it "Negro removal." Adolphine Terry, who organized a citizen's Committee for Progress, called it "an exercise in responsible democracy and a solution to health problems among the poor." A referendum on the issue passed on May 9, 1950, with majority black support.
Harry Ashmore of the Arkansas Gazette has since argued that "[l]ocal authorities could get federal grants for so-called slum clearance and they could clean out an old slum, which in almost every case, of course, tended to be a black neighborhood. And then they were required, if they did that, to provide equivalent housing within presumably the reach of the income groups of the displaced. And then they could then sell this land for any purpose. It didn't have to be for housing if they built equivalent housing somewhere else."
Gillam Park was upgraded from an undeveloped lot to include a swimming pool, pavilions, baseball diamond, and small amusement park. In return, the federal government supplied $3 million funds for the Booker Homes project in the Granite Mountain neighborhood near the east end of Gillam Park. The project included 400 homes for black families.
- Sara Alderman Murphy, Breaking the Silence: Little Rock's Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools, 1958-1963 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997), 20-23.