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Say McIntosh: The lion in winter 

Robert "Say" McIntosh is older, quieter and calmer these days, but he's lived a life full of personal and political drama.

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On Tommy Robinson: "Tommy Robinson mistreated the black men who came to his county jail. I was just standing up for my rights, to show I wasn't scared of him."    

On the field of crosses: "Black people was killing each other. I wanted to stop it. We had 170 something black people killed in '93 I believe, and we've got it down to 21. Those were bad days."

On Arkansas Democrat editor John R. Starr, who was prone to calling him "McIntrash": "He would write an article that dissed me, and I wanted to make him eat his paper."

Derotha McIntosh has been married to Say for 15 years, and serves as the executive director of "Say Stop the Violence," a non-profit he started early in his career as an activist. She said that even she didn't always understand the reasoning behind some of the things McIntosh did. When he decided to publicly burn the American flag, for example, she asked him why he wanted to do it. "He said, 'It's not that I don't like the flag,' " she recalls. " 'My question to the people is: What is that particular item, that flag, doing for you? How is it helping you and us with our worldly problems in the community? If you honor it and give it the glory, what is the return on that?' At that time, it was a little big for me. I had to process it. It was about his community — trying to get them to see: Is this giving you a return? Is this changing anything that's in front of you that's bad?"

Mrs. McIntosh said that her husband's legacy is people remembering him for giving them their first doll or bike, or for feeding hungry people when they didn't have enough to eat. "He came into areas that were most needing something: attention, love somebody that cared, or some food," she said. "He let them know: you are somebody, and if you're not something to yourself or your parents, you're something to me, and I care about you. That was a seed he planted in many little kids' lives, black and white."

Franklin said that he and McIntosh — who he calls "The Bishop of the Streets" — still talk often whenever there's trouble in the black community in Little Rock, and still make trips down to the prison to talk with inmates about the violence that landed them there. He sees his friend as one of those who lit the spark of respect for blacks in Little Rock, though McIntosh often resorted to something more drastic than Dr. King's commitment to non-violence.

"He'd tell them: If you hit me, I'm going to hit you back," Franklin said. "Back when we were coming up in the '50s, you didn't hit a white man. You didn't cuss at a white man. Mac said, 'Them days is gone.' They knew not to get out of place with him. They didn't walk up and say: 'Hey nigger, how you doin?' No. You respect this man. It was: 'How you doing, Mr. McIntosh?' That's where he won the popularity and made the people love him. Sometimes when people know that you're not afraid, they begin to love you and you begin to have love."

McIntosh himself boils it down. He smiles, and for a second, you can see the younger man who gave the politicians and cops and reporters fits. "What I was trying to do is get black people to stand up," he said. "That's what it was all about." 

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