Ten to add to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas 

Blaze Folely

Blaze Folely

Here at the Arkansas Times, we're big fans of the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (encyclopediaofarkansas.net). It's where we begin our research. It's where we kill time. Where else can you peer into the gullet of an alligator snapping turtle and read about the histories of drag shows in Arkansas?

But despite a recent Times headline ("From the civil rights to slime molds, the Encyclopedia has all of Arkansas covered"), our browsing has turned up some holes. That's to be expected, of course. The Central Arkansas Library System, whose Butler Center for Arkansas Studies launched the project in 2006, has pledged to support the encyclopedia into perpetuity. It's always been envisioned as something that will grow and be modified over time. In that spirit and with some self-interest at work (cough, No. 10, cough), we humbly submit our top 10 entries missing from the encyclopedia. Criteria for inclusion, by the way, is that an event or person must be of state or national significance, Encyclopedia of Arkansas editor Guy Lancaster has told us.

1. John Walker. The Little Rock attorney and state representative has been a civil rights champion in Arkansas for six decades.

2. Acxiom. The Little Rock tech company, founded in Conway in 1969, has — or at least had recently — the world's largest commercial database on consumer behavior and interests.

3. Nate Powell. At 37, he'd be younger than most of the people featured in the encyclopedia, but even if the Little Rock-born cartoonist and graphic novelist stopped publishing tomorrow, his oeuvre — especially his graphic novel "Swallow Me Whole" and the autobiographical "March" series about the life of Congressman John Lewis for which he's provided the art — merits his inclusion. His internationally beloved band Soophie Nun Squad deserves an entry, too.

4. The Mayflower oil spill. The story of the most significant environmental disaster in Arkansas in modern time isn't finished — court battles over damages and regulatory decisions about the fate of the ruptured pipeline won't be resolved anytime soon — but that shouldn't keep it from being memorialized.

5. P. Allen Smith. He's the Martha Stewart of the South!

6. Walton Family. There's an entry for Sam Walton, of course, but the heirs to his fortune aren't represented singly or collectively. As the chief patron to Arkansas's greatest art museum, Alice Walton deserves inclusion. So too does the Walton Family Foundation, one of the world's largest nonprofits and a major player in supporting environmental causes and the charter school movement.

7. Blaze Foley. The legendary Austin singer-songwriter, born Michael David Fuller in Malvern, wrote "If I Could Only Fly" and inspired songs by Townes Van Zandt ("Blaze's Blues") and Lucinda Williams ("Drunken Angel").

8. Diabetes, obesity. There are entries for hookworm, polio, yellow fever, etc., but not for the big public health problems of the present.

9. True Soul Records. Inspired by Stax, Lee Anthony's Little Rock funk and soul label stands on its own. Original vinyl from the label is a hot commodity on eBay and among collectors.

10. Arkansas Times. How does the Oxford American, a 22-year-old magazine that was founded and nearly spent half of its life in Mississippi (which, for the record, we're big fans of), get an entry, but we rate not even a paragraph? Alan Leveritt, Mara Leveritt, Max Brantley, Bob Lancaster and Ernie Dumas each need solo attention, too. Other pubs (all defunct) that deserve consideration: The Arkansan, Spectrum Weekly and Localist.


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