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Airic Hughes: “Through the Heart of the City: Interstates, Segregation, and Social Memory in Urban America”

CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies Presents LEGACIES & LUNCH

Through the Heart of the City: Interstates, Segregation, and Social Memory in Urban America

Speaker: Airic Hughes

Airic Hughes, a PhD candidate in history at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, will explore how federal urban renewal projects changed the landscape of numerous American cities throughout the twentieth century. Many of these projects worked in tandem with discriminatory urban planning policies such as redlining, and planning strategies elucidated the local, state, and federal confluence of power systems responsible for transforming urban spaces in Little Rock and other cities to the aims of white supremacy. U.S. Interstate 630 (I-630)—built between 1964 and 1985, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision ending segregation in the nation’s schools and the infamous desegregation crisis at Little Rock Central High School in 1957—intentionally re-segregated Arkansas’s capital city. I-630 was constructed amid the racialized language and tactics of urban renewal and was fundamental to purging the city’s social memory and legacy of racial violence, deliberately hiding the history of modern Little Rock in plain sight.

Airic Hughes is an educator, entrepreneur, artist, and philanthropist. Hughes, who holds a BA in history with a concentration in African and African American studies and an MA in history, is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Arkansas. Hughes’s research examines modern environmental segregation in twentieth-century urban America. Hughes is the founder of Visionairi Enterprises, which produces media and events with a mission to promote and preserve black culture. Visionairi engages communities in areas of education, creativity, and social justice. Originally from Jacksonville, Arkansas, Airic is husband to Dr. Synetra Hughes and father of Airiel (deceased) and Zian Hughes.

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About Legacies & Lunch

Legacies & Lunch is a free monthly program of CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies about Arkansas-related topics.