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The Symposium 69 Controversy

Dan Durning January 29, 2013

(All rights reserved)

In early 1969, a small but heated controversy arose over the scheduled appearance of Muhammad Ali also widely known at the time as Cassius Clay as a speaker of the University of Arkansas Symposium 69, a student-managed lecture series on the campus. The kerfuffle stirred some emotions and was entertaining, but it likely had little significance beyond the evidence it provided of the change occurring in Arkansas, especially the declining influence of Arkansas Old Guard, the political machine that had run the state during the Faubus years. The controversy started soon after a story was published in the Arkansas Gazette on February 13, 1969, announcing the lineup of Symposium 69 speakers. The list included six U.S. senators, an NBC journalist, and a NASA scientist, plus civil rights activist Floyd McKissick and Ali, the former heavyweight champion, both of whom were scheduled to speak at the March 12th session of the Symposium. The Gazette story announcing the schedule noted, The project has no official sanction from the University. Ali was available to speak at UA because he was no longer allowed to fight professionally and was making a living by lecturing on college campuses. He told a reporter that he was scheduled in 1969 to speak at 64 universities including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Notre Dame, and UCLA (Arkansas Democrat, March 10, 1969, p. 2A). Ali, who had exploded to fame in 1964 when he defeated Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight boxing title, had been stripped of the title and was unable to fight professionally after being convicted of draft evasion in June 1967. He had refused induction into the U.S. Army based on his religious beliefs (he claimed to be a draft-exempt minister) and his opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali had been sentenced to prison for draft evasion, but the prison sentence had been deferred as he appealed the verdict. In 1971, the conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. When Ali won his title in 1964, his name was Cassius Clay, his name from birth. Soon after winning the championship, he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. The Dispute Arises Opposition to Alis speech at UA surfaced in articles published on February 20th in the Arkansas Democrat and on February 21st in the Arkansas Gazette. These articles described an exchange of letters by the Pulaski Businessmens Association of Little Rock and UA president David Mullins. The Associations letter asked Mullins to take immediate action to prevent Clay or any un-American activity to reach our campus. Mullins had responded by refusing to take the requested action. Mullins wrote, previous experience with Symposium speakers has indicated the capacity of students to evaluate and place in proper perspective the expressions and viewpoints of any speaker... He continued, The presentation of divergent viewpoints is one of the recognized functions of the university. Another article in the Gazette on February 21st was titled, Just Racism, Negroes Say of Protest. According to this article, several leaders of black and civil rights groups in Pulaski County had criticized the Associations request to stop Alis appearance at UA. A joint statement said, We are aware of racism in the state, but are appalled at the open gesture of the Pulaski Businessmens Association. One leader said We feel that Clay has every right to speak at our university. The following day, Saturday, February 22nd, a Gazette editorial (Bravo, Dr. Mullins) lambasted the Associations letter. It suggested that Ali had much in common with George Wallace in that both have big mouths, are ex-boxers, and both are radicals, each in his own way even if Ali is essentially a comic 1

figure while Wallace is inherently an evil, malevolent man. The editorial suggested that exposure to such figures as Ali and Wallace is a consequential help in getting a solid education. Elsewhere in that issue, a story reported the criticisms of the Associations letter by the Arkansas Chapter of American Civil Liberties Unions. The ACLU statement lamented that the Little Rock businessmen do not understand the concept of free speech in a free society and that the freedom of all men is best served by insisting on full respect for the First Amendment. The Arkansas State Senate Takes Action The matter did not end with the exchange of letters. On Tuesday, February 25, state Senator Milt Earnhart of Fort Smith introduced a resolution in the State Senate to condemn Alis upcoming appearance at the University of Arkansas. Earnhart had served in the state House of Representatives from 1958 through 1967, and had been elected to the state senate in 1968. One of his campaign cards listed among his qualifications his authorship of a law to outlaw the communist party. The resolution was brought to the Senate floor on Friday, February 28th. The pro-resolution arguments were made by state Senators Earnhart, Guy Mutt Jones, Melvin T. Chambers, and Dan T. Sprick, all part of the states Old Guard, comprised of Faubuss political machine and its sometimes allies, segregationists affiliated with Jim Johnson. These two groups had been the most powerful forces in Arkansas politics for more than a decade until 1966, when Winthrop Rockefeller had been elected governor (Johnson 2002, p. 147.)

This campaign card is on Earnhart's blog. see http://senatormilt.blogspot.com/`

Perhaps Earnhart thought the resolution would be treated as routine business as such resolutions usually were. Earlier in the session, the state senators had passed with little dissent a similar resolution condemning the Arkansas Peace Information Center as a possible communist front. That resolution had inspired a cartoon in early February by George Fisher, showing a line of parrots on a utility wire. One labeled Dan Sprick is saying Repeat after me: Protesters are communists. All of the other parrots, labeled Arkansas Senate, are saying Protesters are communists. Fisher paid for his cartoon a couple of weeks later when the state senate rejected his nomination by Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller to be a member of the Arkansas State Publicity and Parks Commission. (Arkansas Gazette, Feb. 20, 1969 p. 10A) This time, the resolution did not go through unchallenged. Debate of the resolution, according to the Gazette, was one of the lustiest oratorical exhibitions of the session. (Arkansas Gazette, March 1, 1969, p. 11A) After Earnhart stated objections to Alis appearance because he was a draft dodger and had nothing of value to tell students, state Senator W. D. Moore stood up to argue that the resolution opposed the concept of free speech. He told the Senate: I detest Cassius Clay as an individualbut students had the right to expose themselves to Clays thought. He said it was wrong to graduate students from the University without allowing them to be exposed to both sides of questions. He asserted that the Senate would be doing an injustice if it caused cancellation of Clays speech. 2

Moores arguments were rebuked, according to the Gazette story, in a series of stormy anti-Communist speeches by Guy H. (Mutt) Jones, Dan T. Sprick, and Melvin T. Chambers. Included in the speeches were calls to insure that students were imbued with ample doses of patriotism. Moore engaged both Jones and Sprick to ask each a similar question: Are you saying indoctrination by the Russia is wrong but that indoctrination by the University of Arkansas would be right? According to the Gazette, the conversation with Sprick continued as follows: Are we indoctrinating them? Sprick asked. You are not letting them hear the other side, Moore said and Sprick replied that there was only one side. Youve answered my question, Moore said. There is no side but yours.

1George Fisher cartoon published in the Arkansas Gazette in early February, 1969.

As part of his speech, Sen. Sprick said he was ready to go to Vietnam immediately to fight, if Pres. Nixon summoned him and I wouldnt have a hunger strike. Moore replied that he had two sons in the armed services and a third in officer training. He observed, They dont think they have a patent on patriotism. Sen. Sprick condemned UA President Mullins for approving Clays appearance, saying Hes running a college up there and doesnt have anything to say about it, and hes mealy mouthed anyway. In addition to Sen. Moore, two other state senators spoke against the resolution. One was the only Republican in the state Senate, Sen. Jim Caldwell of Rogers, a Church of Christ minister. The other was Sen. Clifton Wade of Fayetteville, who represented the county in which UA is located. In one exchange, Sen. Chambers asked Sen. Wade if he realized that riots always follow such college appearances. Wade said that was incorrect. A voice vote was taken on the resolution and, according to the Gazette, a chorus of votes was heard against it. The presiding officer, Lt. Governor Maurice Footsie Britt, a Republican, ruled that it passed. The 35-member state senate that passed the resolution had one woman and no black members. Thirtythree of its members were white, male Democrats, including two Mutts, a Chubby, and a Buddy. The following day, a Gazette editorial praised the debate for showing that some senators have grown weary of putting the Senates stamp on every demagogic declaration that one of their number may introduce, whether out of its own ignorance or simply in a play to the peanut gallery. It continued:

Senators Moore, Wade, and Caldwell argued this most elemental case for academic freedom beautifully. About all we would add is to remark anew the strange sense of insecurity that moves members of the legislature to oppose letting students hear someone like Cassius Clay. What on earth or in heaven are they afraid of? (Arkansas Gazette, March 1, 1969, p. 4A) The Controversy Smolders During the latter part of February and the first ten days of March, a few letters were written to the Arkansas Gazette, Arkansas Democrat, and Arkansas Traveler (the student paper) on the matter of Alis appearance at UA. All but one supported his appearance with several criticizing the Businessmans Association and the Arkansas State Senate. The letter against Ali came from one the states leading segregationists who wrote One wonders what is taking place around Old Main. It seems as though the kooks are taking control there too, and if this be so, maybe it is best to move it to Little Rock, next to the Editorial Office of the Arkansas Gazette, so that the memory of a great institution which has flourish in Fayetteville for almost a hundred years will not be tarnished. It was signed, Col. John N Warnock, Class of 35. Some speeches made by Ali opponents mention that a few veterans associations and local citizen groups passed resolutions against Alis UA speech. Without further evidence, it is not clear what views if any -- most Arkansans had about the Ali controversy. However, one thing is apparent: no strong surge of public sentiment arose against the speech. One peripheral event should be noted: a few smart alecks at the University of Arkansas Young Republican Club tried to stir the Ali pot with a couple of resolutions passed by its executive committee (mainly, Skip Carney and Dan Durning, with some others I dont recall). One resolution condemned attempts to stop Ali from coming to the UA as intolerant, misguided paternalism that is completely unnecessary and an insult to the maturity of the students and the responsibility of the faculty and administration. The second resolution read: Whereas, State Sen. Dan T. Sprick stated on Feb. 28, 1969 that he was willing to go to Vietnam to fight immediately if President Richard Nixon summoned him; and Whereas, such a journey by Sen. Sprick would immediately improve Arkansas and could not hurt Vietnam; Be It Therefore Resolved: The UofA YRC urgently requests that President Nixon immediately ask Senator Sprick to go to Vietnam; And Be It Further Resolved: The Young Republican Club requests Private Sprick to invite Sen. Mutt Jones, Sen. Milt Earnhart, and Sen. Melvin Chambers join him on this trip. The culprits responsible for the Sprick resolution were pleased to note that stories about it were published in the Arkansas Gazette (March 7, 1969, p. 8A) and on the front page of the Arkansas Traveler (March 10, 1969). The Ali matter gained some more visibility on the UA campus on March 12, the day of the speech when two letters about it were published in the Arkansas Traveler. One letter, from Sen. Milt Earnhart, was a response to a letter that had been sent by a group to students to Sen. Earnhart after he had introduced 4

his anti-Ali resolution. These students from Fort Smith wrote to oppose the resolution. Earnhart addressed his reply to George Lease, the elected president of the student government who grew up in Fort Smith, even though Lease had not signed it. In his letter, Earnhart suggested that communists were behind "Clay" and his actions. He wrote: "We are at a point now, where we must fight Communism everywhere it is detected, and if you believe a character like Clay is not encouraged by Communists, you would be more naive than I believe you are!" He asserted the issue was not about "freedom of speech," but about good taste. Lease responded to Earnharts letter by sharply rebuking him for sending a copy of the letter to Leases ailing mother even though he, Lease, was 22 years old and self-supporting. He asked Earnhart if he sent copies of letters to the parents of everyone with whom he corresponded. In a deft move, Lease refused to respond the Earnharts assertions, instead inviting him to speak, along with other state senators, at a special session of Symposium 69. He proposed dates for the appearance and offered to pay expenses and an appropriate honorarium.
State Senator Milt Earnhart, 1967

Arkansas Traveler, Feb. 28, 1969

(These two letters, as published in the Arkansas Traveler, are attached as an appendix.)

The Deed is Done Muhammad Ali and Floyd McKissick made their speeches as scheduled on the evening of March 12th to a full house at Barnhill Field House. The crowd was about 4,000 people, including several hundred blacks, the largest attendance at a Symposium 69 event. In his speech, Ali discussed Nation of Islam doctrine, strongly advocating non-violence and the separation of the races. He told the students, by nature the two races cannot live together. People, like animals, like to stick together. He explained that the Nation of Islam wants full and complete freedom to establish a separate state or territory on this continent or elsewhere.The land, which must be fertile and minerally rich, should be supplied by the former slave owners of the United States the white people. The former slave owners were also obliged to financially support the new state during the first years of its founding. If these things did not happen within a few years, Ali said, God (Allah) would destroy the nation with natural disasters. In addition to having good things to say about Gov. George Wallace and his segregationist views, Ali said he had respect for whites in the South who lynched Negroes who had bothered their women. He pleaded with Negroes to protect Negro women. (Northwest Arkansas Times, March 13, 1969, p. 1) McKissick, who had been director of the Congress of Racial Equality, gave a heated speech that focused on the history of racism in the United States, which he called a sick society. He urged the use of black power to overcome it. A Gazette editorial made this remark about Alis speech: When the speaker was not advocating separation of the races, he was praising George Wallace to the skies, both of which stands seem to accord with the plurality of voting opinion in the state. One wonders again what the advance fuss was all about. (Arkansas Gazette, March 20, 1969, p. 6A)

Into the Lions Den A week later, in response to the invitation by George Lease, four state senators came to UA for a special Symposium 69. The speakers were Sen. Mutt Jones and Sen. Earnhart, two leading advocates of the anti-Ali resolution (for more on Jones and his political career, see his short biography in the Arkansas Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, written by Ernie Dumas; for an update on Earnhart see this link http://senatormilt.blogspot.com/ .) For the pro-resolution side, the speakers were state Sen. Jim Caldwell and state Rep. Herbert Rule III (for information on these two men, see these links: http://www.conservapedia.com/Jim_Caldwell http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herb_Rule .) Sen.Earnhart spoke first, suggesting that students talk to some of the people in your hometowns and see the reaction of these people who support this university, who are paying taxes and the [income tax] surcharge and then see it paid over to a draft dodger. He said, This is not a matter of questions of free speech or race. He asked, What are you trying to do? Are you trying to disturb your parents and the people of Arkansas? He concluded, Well, you are. (Northwest Arkansas Times, March 19, 1969, pp. 1-2; this story is re-printed in appendix 2) Sen. Jones wore a red tie, red handkerchief and red boots and engaged at times in heated oratory. He told the audience of about 400, mostly students, You dont have a single right that wasnt bought with blood. The right to distribute scandalous criticisms was bought with blood. Jones linked Ali to communism. He said, The Chinese say they are going to take over the world and the Russians say they are going to take us from within. They say they are going to do it through college students and through professors. He also told the audience that if there is a last citadel of Christianity, it is this country. He asserted that no power on earth can stop the spreading of communism except the United States government. His speech elicited a few cheers and some jeers. Sen. Jim Caldwell of Rogers, the sole Republican in the state Senate, told the audience that he was happy that Ali came to UA. He said, I dont agree with him, but he should be heard. He argued that Ali had as much right to be heard as Mutt Jones. Rep. Rule of Little Rock was the favorite with the audience. He noted that a large American Legion Post in Little Rock had called for legislation that could preclude anyone under indictment for a felony from appearing on a state supported campus. Rule said that under such circumstances you couldnt have had Gandhi on your campus nor Christ nor Socrates. Rule got a standing ovation when he told the audience, The University is the last place a person should be denied the right to state his views. The University is the cradle of liberty in this country. 7

As an aside, I will note that some familiar campus trouble makers (Carney, Durning, and some collaborators) were on hand for this Symposium session handing out leaflets at the entrance to the venue with the scandalous criticisms mentioned in Joness speech. These handouts were described in the Gazette (March 20, 1969, p. 18A) story about the speeches: Before the lecture Tuesday, several students handed out leaflets saying Our special thanks are extended to Guy (Mutt) Jones of Conway (the Athens of Arkansas) and Milt Earnhart of Fort Smith for attempting to insure our intellectual pureness and virginity. We feel that they have attempted to prevent us from hearing a segregationist theory, which would support Arkansass segregationist actions. They have earned our enduring support. (Ali was Cassius Clay before become a Black Muslim and taking a new name. Alis Symposium speech called for the separation of the races.) The leaflets also said: We furthermore are gratified that these two esteemed, unhypocritical, progressive-minded legislators would take time from their time to appear on our campus as intellectual bastions service to provide us with ample doses of patriotism The leaflets were signed under auspices of AHCPMC (Ad Hoc Committee for the Preservation of Mental Chastity). The miscreants who wrote and distributed this leaflet were, instead of being embarrassed by their juvenile actions, pleased that it got covered in the Gazette and newspapers. We, umm, they were especially tickled that the leaflets seemed to irritate Sen. Jones. In a follow-up to the Ali-controversy, as it sank further to farce, the April fools edition of the Arkansas Traveler had a front page story titled Donald Duck Called Subversive. The lead paragraph was, Sen. Mutt Moans of Conway announced today that he is trying to prevent the scheduled appearance of Donald Duck on the University campus next month. Another paragraph explained, The Conway Senator..opposed Mr. Ducks radical ideas, calling him a featherbrain and denouncing him as all wet. He [said] that to pass a bill was one thing but to grow one was something altogether different. The story ended by noting that Senator Moans was the chairman of an organization of senators whose motto was Dont just be a cog...be a crank.
Picture of Sen. Jones on the front page of the April 1, 1969 edition of the Arkansas Traveler

What Did It All Mean? Looking back at the Ali controversy more than forty years later, it seems that this incident can best be viewed as evidence of the changes taking place in the nation and Arkansas as the Sixties ended. Nationally, civil rights and peace groups were gaining strength and losing patience. College campuses were besieged with occupations, sit-ins, and other disruptive action. In the state, the scope of political change underway was the largest in decades. The old order was disappearing as the Faubus machine (the Old Guard) and its segregationist allies were in rapid retreat. A new order would soon arrive. Journalist John Starr (1987, p 55) described Winthrop Rockefeller as the wrecking bar voters used to dismantle the political machine that held Arkansas in thrall and was threatening in the mid-1960s to give the state a governor for life. In 1969, the wrecking bar was still at work: Rockefeller had defeated segregationist Jim Johnson in 1966 and Old Guard politician Marion Crank in 1968, and he brought forward what Ernie Dumas (2012), long-time political reporter, called the most ambitious program in Arkansas history. According to Dumas, Rockefeller said that this program was what he entered politics to do. Dumas described WRs 1969 program and the reasons for it as follows: Arkansas had the lowest level of state and local taxes in the country, the toughest anti-union laws and one of the lowest degrees of unionization in the country.Arkansas and Mississippi were dead last in per-capita income, average wages and (with West Virginia) the level of poverty; in education spending, teacher pay and the percentage of adults with college educations (we're still last there); in infant deaths, low-birthweight babies and the general index of child and maternal health, and in so many other measures of well being. Rockefeller said he intended to change that with a massive investment in education and public health. The Old Guard Democrats wanted none of Rockefellers proposed tax (almost $100 million per year increase) and modernization program, which included, among other things, a reorganization of state government and the implementation of the states first classification and pay plan. As the Ali controversy arose, they under the leadership of Sen. Jones were fighting to derail WRs proposals, and were succeeding. Perhaps their success in thwarting Rockefellers program reminded the Old Guard of the old days when they could get their way on most issues. Perhaps in opposing the Ali speech, the Old Guard senators were just reverting to form, recalling how they had previously restricted speech on state campuses. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, they had used accusations of subversion and communism to limit who could speak on Arkansas campuses, keeping out people they labeled racial agitators, communists, and other bad outside influences. During those years, the Attorney General and legislators had held hearings on and conducted investigations of subversives they claimed were undermining order in the state. In this atmosphere, as late as December 1964, the University of Arkansas had forbidden the use of its facilities for a speech by the cultural attach of the Bulgarian Embassy on the grounds that he was a communist. (He was instead allowed, by a minister, to speak at the Methodist Student Center.) Because most funding for public universities came from state appropriations, college leaders tried to avoid offending the elected officials who proposed and voted on their budgets. From 1954 to 1966, 9

Faubus and his men had determined how much money Arkansas universities and colleges would receive each year, thus the Old Guard had been in a strong position to influence decisions about who was allowed to speak on college campuses. In 1969, however, the Old Guard senators no longer had the power to exert their will on Arkansas colleges and universities, though they tried with the Ali controversy. Both university administrators and students were less willing to submit to the efforts of these legislators to control them. Thus, UA President Mullins could ignore the state Senates anti-Ali resolution, and students could ridicule its authors, with little fear of the retribution that likely would have been meted out a few years earlier. Although, the Old Guard succeeded in killing most of Rockefellers reform program during his last term, the end of their influence was near. The major elements of Rockefellers program were passed in the following years under the leadership of the three progressive Democratic governors who followed Rockefeller in office. These three governors acknowledged that Rockefeller was the beacon who showed us the way out of the dark days of politics. (Blair and Barth, p. 46). The Ali controversy likely did not hasten the end of the dark days of Arkansas politics, but it did show the end was near.

Sources: Newspaper Articles February 13, 1969. Muskie, Clay Due at UA Symposium. Arkansas Gazette, p. 1B. February 20, 1969. Ex-fighter to speak at U of A despite businessmens protest. Arkansas Democrat, p. 6A. February 21, 1969. Mullins Refuses to bar talk by Muhammad Ali at UA Symposium 69. Arkansas Gazette, p. 1B. February 21, 1969. Just racism, Negroes say of protest. Arkansas Gazette, p. 1B. February 22, 1969. Bravo, Dr. Mullins (editorial). Arkansas Gazette, p. 4A. February 22, 1969. ACLU hits move to bar Alis speech. Arkansas Gazette, p. 2A. February 28, 1969. Reagan seeks campus probe, is rebuffed. Arkansas Gazette, p. 1A. March 1, 1969. Senators condemn plans for speech by Ali at U or A. Arkansas Gazette, p. 11A. March 1, 1969. Cassius Clay day at state senate (editorial). Arkansas Gazette, p 4A.


March 2, 1969. Reds active in uprisings, Arkansan tells DAR meet. Arkansas Gazette, p. 26A. March 7, 1969. Send Pvt. Sprick to war, UA Young Republicans urge. Arkansas Gazette, p. 8A. March 8, 1969. Senators get bid to speak at Symposium. Arkansas Democrat. March 9, 1969. Ali drives into town, reviews show on TV, finds a message in it. Arkansas Gazette, p. 8A. March 10, 1969. Tyson, Van. Ali is puzzled by opposition. Arkansas Democrat, p. 2. March 10, 1969. YRC joins Ali game, suggests Nixon send senators to Vietnam. Arkansas Traveler, p. 1. March 12, 1969. Schull, Bettye. Negroes justified in seeking nation of own, Ali asserts. Arkansas Democrat, p. 1A. March 13, 1969. Blacks have bad luck McKissick tells crowd; both races suffer effects. Arkansas Traveler, p. 1. March 13, 1969. Clay-Ali calls for segregation; advocates peaceful separation. Arkansas Traveler, p. 1. March 13, 1969. Diverse Racial Solutions Urged. Northwest Arkansas Times, p. 1. March 19, 1969. Conner, Farrell. State legislators praise, condemn students. Northwest Arkansas Times, p. 1, 2 March 20, 1969. Allen, Dick.. Rule, Caldwell are Heroes of legislative debate over appearance by Ali. Arkansas Gazette, p. 18A. March 20, 1969. Non-controversial Ali (editorial). Arkansas Gazette, p. 6A. March 20, 1969. Only a few hear legislators discuss Muhammad Ali Visit. Arkansas Democrat, p. 3A. April 1, 1969. Westlaco Kid. Donald Duke Called Subversive. Arkansas Traveler, p. 1. Other Blair, Diane and Jay Barth. 2005. Arkansas Government and Politics, 2nd editions. University of Nebraska Press. Dumas, Ernest. Guy Hamilton "Mutt" Jones (19111986). Entry in The Arkansas Encylopedia of History and Culture. http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4937 Dumas, Ernest. 2012. WR, the Progressive. Arkansas Times, April 19. Accessed at: http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/wr-the-progressive/Content?oid=2177478 Dumas, Ernest. Guy Hamilton Mutt Jones (1911-1986). Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Assessed at: http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4937 Johnson, Ben F. III. 2002. Arkansas in Modern America, 1930-1999. University of Arkansas Press.


Scott, R.W. 1987. Warnock A Retrospective. Camark Press. Smith, Doug. 2011. Yesterdays Republicans Look at Todays. Arkansas Times, January 19. Assessed at: http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/yesterdays-republicans-look-at-todays/Content?oid=1510149 Starr, John Robert. 1987. Yellow Dogs and Dark Horses. August House. Ward, John. 1978. The Arkansas Rockefeller. Louisiana State University Press. (For an update on the recent acting career of Milt Earnhart, see http://senatormilt.blogspot.com/ )


APPENDIX 1: THE EARNHART AND LEASE LETTERS Letter sent by Sen. Milt Earnhart to UA Student Government President George Lease Mr. George Lease, President Associated Students University of Arkansas Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701 Dear Mr. Lease: I received the letter signed by Fort Smith students protesting my Senate Resolution 19, against the appearance of Federally indicted Cassius Clay. Quite sure your thoughts do not represent your parents thinking, nor the great majority of people. You may be interested to know that outside of your communication, all phone calls, letters and personal contact, have been for my resolution. This is not a question of free speech. It is taste, for example, boys are dying in Vietnam, while your group advocates the appearance of a draft dodger at a prestigious University. Cassius Clay, by his actions, has abdicated his right as an American. Why not invite Joe Louis, an American that served in the armed forces, and incidentally was a much greater champion? Would you say Fidel Castro has a right to speak before you? This imbecile would put a nuclear bomb into New York City, if he could. We are at a point now, where we must fight Communism anywhere it is detected, and if you believe a character like Clay is not encouraged by Communists, you would be more naive that I believe you are! Would you, in past year, have advocated the appearance of Hitler; or Al Capone to advise you how to prepare your income tax? I note that the Pulaski Businessmen, the American Veterans of Foreign Wars, the World War I veterans of Fort Smith and others, are protesting Clay's appearance. I have always pushed your fine Symposium and you have had many meritorious speeches. You damage this series by booking the disgraceful Cassius Clay! He is appropriately named! He is a hero, with feet of clay. Finally, may I say, I am one of the Senators that has pushed for voting rights for 18 and 19 year olds. This Cassius Clay thing makes it extremely difficult to convince adult voters that your group is out of the immature, adolescent age! Since several students signed your letter. I hope you will show them my reply. Very Sincerely, Milt Earnhart 13

Letter sent by UA Student Government President to state Senator Milt Earnhart Senator Milt Earnhart Arkansas State Senate State Capitol Building Little Rock, Arkansas Senator Earnhart: Thank you for your letter of March 4. Unfortunately, it was mis-addressed when sent to me, because if you will notice your original copy of the Fort Smith students letter, my name was not signed, although I concur fully with their statements. I have answered your request that the students see your letter -- 11,000 students and our faculty and administration saw it reprinted in the ARKANSAS TRAVELER today. It has been received as emotionally as it was written. Senator, I would like to ask why you saw fit to send a copy of your letter to my mother. I am 22 years old and fully self-supporting and am interested in knowing if you send copies of your mail to the mothers of all those with whom you correspond. The fact that my mother is a widow and has been seriously ill does not make me happy with your sense of paternal responsibility. Yours was an act of inconsideration and vanity I won't forget. I will not attempt to reply to the opinions in your letter, because they are your opinions, Senator, and you have the right to express them. Indeed, the comments by yourself and some of your fellow members have caused great discussion among your student and "adult" constituency. It is in the light of this interest that I would like to extend a special invitation for you and your Senators Sprick, Jones, Moore, and Caldwell to join our Symposium '69 program as featured speakers. We have dates open on March 16, 17, and 18. Naturally we would be happy to pay your expenses and/or a reasonable retainer for your time and inconvenience. I believe it would be a beneficial and informative opportunity for you and for your fellow senators as well as for us. If you could, either individually or as a group, reply to this invitation (preferably this would be an evening program beginning at 7:30) as soon as possible, our students would be grateful. You have expressed both doubts and confidence in the students of our university -- this is a request that you show your concern and interest by speaking with us in Fayetteville. I await your reply. Yours for a better Arkansas George F. Lease, Jr. University of Arkansas


APPENDIX 2: STORY FROM THE NORTHWEST ARKANSAS TIMES, MARCH 19, 1969, PP 1-2. State Legislators Praise, Condemn Students By Farrell Conner Two Arkansas legislators Tuesday night scolded University of Arkansas students for inviting Muhammad Ali as a Symposium speaker, while two other state lawmakers praised students for their action at a special session of "Symposium '69." The all-white audience, mostly students, and estimated by a UA official at 400, partially filled the men's gymnasium compared to a capacity crowd of 4,000 that heard the former world's heavyweight boxing champion last week. The legislators include Senators Guy (Mutt) Jones and Milt Earnhart, who opposed Ali's appearance and Sen. Jim Caldwell and Rep. Herbert Rule. Jones was dressed in red boots that the described as "Razorback red" and wore a red tie and red rose in his lapel. The controversial Conway lawyer said he felt he "should come up here since I was invited, not to convince you of anything...not to try to prove anything to you, but to criticize you." Jones declared that Ali should not have been given the dignity and prestige that he received through his appearance on the UA campus -- a campus in a nation that "this draft dodger doesn't believe is worth fighting for..." Continuing to lash out at the students who laughed at some of his opinionated remarks but never booing, Jones pointed his finger at the students and said," Some of you probably have never read the preamble to the Constitution of the United States." He proceeded to read it to them. He declared that "colors" are going to be set against "colors," that classes are going to be set against classed in the spread of communism through students, college professor, and ministers. He closed his remarks by saying that the United State is the only country that can stop communism and handed George Lease, president of the UA Association Students, sponsor of the Symposium, a $20 bill "to go on the expenses of the program" and added that he "bet Ali didn't contribute anything." Representative Rule said that now is the "most challenging time of your life." He commended the students and asserted that the basic issued is freed of speech. The Little Rock legislator, who is also a lawyer, said he wondered what Gandhi, Christ or Socrates would have been permitted to speak on the UA campus under circumstances such as existed in the Arkansas legislature. The University is the last place where a man should be denied tghe right to express his views he said. "This is a public facility" he young legislator asserted. "Let's not forget it." He was the only speaker to receive a standing ovation.


Senator Caldwell, a Rogerss minister, said he was happy that Cassius Clay came to the UA campus, and laughingly remarked that "if it hadn't been for Clay, you (students) wouldn't have had the chance to hear the Honorable Mutt Jones." He complimented the UA students on inviting the ex-boxer and added that they (the students) are capable of taking care of themselves. He said that freedom is not personal but social and that "we must learn to live together with each other on this planet...we must develop men of integrity and high ideals to overcome riots." Caldwell said the resolution passed by the Arkansas Senate opposing Ali's appearance on the UA campus didn't help the situation. MENTAL SLAVERY He said no man is free when he is a slave of this own thinking. Senator Earnhart, a Fort Smith television newscaster, reminding students that the legislator's appearance was at no expense to the University (neither was Clay's -- the students paid) -- described Clay as a disgrace. un-American, and a draft dodger. He wanted to know why Joe Louis, also a former world's heavyweight box champion, wasn't invited to speak. You (students) should invite people who are a credit to the University, he advised. Earnhart described Clay's and Floyd McKissick's appearance as the "Clay-McKissick Laugh-in." The Symposium series will continue tonight, returning to the Barnhill field house, where Sen. Edward Muskie of Maine, the Democrat's vice presidential candidate in last year's election will be the speaker.