Arkansas Business' 25 Minority Trailblazers (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

Charles Stewart, executive vice president at Regions Bank

Unable to land a deal with a publisher for his first novel, "Invisible Life," Harris published it himself and sold copies from the trunk of his car.

Since then, Harris has published many novels, many of which deal with Harris' experiences as an openly gay African-American. Five of his books have achieved New York Times bestseller status.

Harris received the Novel of the Year Award from Blackboard African-American Bestsellers Inc. and the James Baldwin Award for Literary Excellence, and was nominated for the Image Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Harris sometimes serves as a visiting professor at the UA.

8. George Howard Jr.
George Howard Jr. was unflappable, and despite the indignities he suffered as he broke down barrier after barrier, he spoke often of "this great nation."

In 1970, then-Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller appointed Howard to the Arkansas State Claims Commission, the first black to sit on the panel. Howard was reappointed to the same role by Gov. David Pryor, who later called on Howard to fill an unexpired term on the Arkansas Supreme Court, making him the first black Supreme Court justice. Howard finished out the term and returned to private practice, only to be called on six months later by another Arkansas governor. In 1979, then-Gov. Bill Clinton appointed Howard to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, making him the first black to sit on that court.

While Howard was serving on the Court of Appeals, then-President Jimmy Carter nominated him to fill a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Of that appointment, which made him the first African-American in Arkansas to be a federal judge, Howard said: "I walked in not as a black judge for black people but as a judge for all the people."

While on the bench, Howard presided over a number of high-profile cases, most notably some of the Whitewater trials. He sentenced Clinton friend and former Associate Attorney General Webb Hubbell to 21 months in prison after Hubbell pleaded guilty to a number of felonies. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required," Howard said, quoting the Bible.

He died on April 21, 2007, at the age of 82.

9. Keith Jackson
Chosen as all-American by Parade magazine and all-state as a tight end and safety during his senior year at Parkview High School, Little Rock native Keith Jerome Jackson exuded the promise of athletic success. Although Jackson went on to greatness, his passion for helping never subsided.

During the off-seasons of his successful nine-year career in the National Football League, which culminated in a Super Bowl Championship in 1997, Jackson returned to Little Rock to give back to the community.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.