Harrison Mayor Jeff Crockett says his town doesn't deserve to be associated with racial intolerance.
He took that message to Little Rock's Philander Smith College, a historically black college, on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
An area of Harrison where the black community once lived is now a memory. According to the Arkansas Historical Association, "Harrison's black neighborhood was composed of small homes along Rush Avenue and Sycamore Street, running east to Chestnut, then northward up along Dry Jordan Creek and southeast of Rose Hill Cemetery."
"Our kids, when they go to away games and stuff, get perceived as having racial bias," says Mayor Crockett. "It's not fair to them either. So, we're trying to overcome this."
It's a changing town: Boone County began allowing the sale of alcohol in 2011; the city celebrated Black History Month; and it also held a Martin Luther King Commission non-violent youth summit last year.
"Well, there's some good people here," says Chuck Decker, who has washed windows in town for 26 years. "It's a people business and I like people."
We asked about the reflections he sees in the community, and whether it's different than the Harrison 100 years ago.
"The whole world's changed," says Decker. "You have to decide whether you like the change, but it's change whether you like it or not."
Decker stayed neutral when we asked him what we thought of the mayor's attempt to alter outside perceptions.
"There are certain members of the community that think that if you leave it alone it will go away," adds Mayor Crockett. "[Or] by bringing it up, you're causing more of a problem than you're fixing, and I totally disagree with that."
Mayor Crockett says he's trying to fight the perception of Harrison's link with the KKK. He says the only real connection is a P.O. Box that belongs to the Klan at the Harrison Post Office.
"I think people from the outside see that and see Harrison as being associated with that because of their address. And because of that, they think Harrison is a bad place to go and a bad place to stop."
The national director of the KKK, Thomas Robb, lives outside Harrison, in the town of Zinc.
Crockett doesn't want a P.O. Box, and actions trapped in history, to define the Ozarks town. He says the city didn't have any official MLK events this year, but he hopes it does next year.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, less than half of a percent of Harrison's population is black.
The Arkansas Historical Association says Harrison had 1,500 residents in 1900; of those, 115 were African-American -- which was more than 7.5-percent of the population. A decade later, the black community was down to a single person.
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