Axios Northwest Arkansas

Picture of the Fayetteville skyline.

May 25, 2021

Welcome back. It's Tuesday. Thanks for being here.

  • Prepare for thunderstorms.

Situational awareness: Want even more "The Boys of Summer?" You're in luck. Starting today, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals are playing at home for 12 out of the next 13 days.

  • They're taking on the San Antonio Missions at 7pm.

Today's newsletter is 941 words, about a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The rise and fall of Arkansas' Confederate monuments

Data: Southern Poverty Law Center; Map: Michelle McGhee/Axios. Note: There are some monuments with unknown dedication dates, and they are not represented in the bar chart.
Data: Southern Poverty Law Center; Map: Michelle McGhee/Axios. Note: There are some monuments with unknown dedication dates, and they are not represented in the bar chart.

Given the national conversation about Confederate symbols in public spaces over the past year, we wanted to look into the state of monuments in Arkansas. Here's what we found:

  • As of last year, there were 39 Confederate monuments throughout the state, including the Texas Monument at the Pea Ridge battlefield in NWA.
  • Statewide, four have been removed or relocated.
  • Most recently, a 100-year-old monument of a generic Confederate soldier was taken down in Bentonville and moved to a private park.

Why it matters: Many see monuments erected to celebrate the Confederacy as an embrace of the violent, racist ideology that drove the Civil War.

  • Calls for their removal have gained momentum across the country since the police killing of George Floyd one year ago, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which provided data for the map.

Yes, but: Several measures that aim to dismantle Confederate symbolism in Arkansas have failed recently.

  • The state House of Representatives' attempt to end Confederate Flag Day failed in April. It'll still be celebrated on the Saturday before Easter each year.
  • Several attempts to omit one star on the state flag commemorating Arkansas' historical membership in the Confederacy also have failed.

Plus: Little Rock is potentially facing a legal battle over three Confederate markers that were removed from the area near MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History last summer.

  • A lawyer representing two Arkansas chapters of Confederate heritage groups threatened to sue last week to have the markers returned.
  • He cites a new act that prohibits relocating Civil War monuments on public property, despite the removal occurring before the legislation was signed into law in April.

Of note: Four monuments listed on the map don't have dedication dates, so they appear in the graphic before others but aren't represented in the bar chart.

Check out an interactive version of this map to see changes over time.

2. Remembering George Floyd one year later

a mural of George Floyd stating Black Lives Matter

Artist Octavio Logo's mural of George Floyd at the intersection of East 7th Street and South Washington Avenue in Fayetteville. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Today marks the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder, an event that renewed national debate around racism and the role of police.

It's worth taking a moment to remember that Floyd was a father, a son, a brother and a friend. May he forever rest in peace.

See some of Axios' recent coverage about reactions to this anniversary:

For a deeper dive, check out Axios' ongoing series on race and inequality, Hard Truths.

3. UofA's innovation program to expand

A lightbulb with a brain as its filament

Illustration: Caresse Haaser, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The McMillon Innovation Studio announced plans yesterday to host 14 design teams consisting of students and mentors in the fall.

What's happening: The studio wants people looking to solve social, organizational or entrepreneurial problems to apply.

Flashback: This past spring, the studio hosted seven design teams that tackled projects like how to more effectively communicate COVID-19-related news to the Latinx community.

  • They also looked into how to offer more resources to improve financial stability among small business owners in underrepresented groups.

Why it matters: The intention is to mentor future leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators by giving them an opportunity to make real-world changes, according to the university.

What they're saying:

"A big change this semester is that students are welcome to bring in their own entrepreneurial ideas or innovations and pitch those at the beginning of the semester to other potential team members."
— Justin Orso, studio director, in press release

4. 🦬 Brake for bison

Screenshot from video of bison walking in Bella Vista on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Bella Vista Police Department

Fourteen bison were on the run in Bella Vista after a herd got loose yesterday.

  • City spokesperson Cassi Lapp told Axios they were rounded up in the afternoon and returned home. And yes, we're serious.

What happened: The bison got loose from Brush Creek Bison, a farm in nearby Noel, Missouri.

  • The owners and police spent hours trying to redirect the herd home, KNWA-TV reports.

Threat level: Police posted a warning on the department's Facebook page telling residents to avoid Glasgow Road and the Branchwood area during the search.

  • A bison's mood can change quickly. Since they're fast and can charge, it's best to not approach them.

Go deeper: Watch video of the bison visiting Bella Vista here.

5. Walmart AMP plans late summer shows

Multiple musical notes merging into one

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

🥳 You can feel it. Masks are coming off, and people are making plans to do things — together. In crowds.

If you're like us and need that sweet social interaction to feel alive, the Walmart AMP recently made a spate of announcements about upcoming events you'll want to take note of:

  • Independence Day with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. July 4, starting at 6pm.
  • Lady A with Carly Pearce, Niko Moon and Tenille Arts. Aug. 7 at 7pm.
  • Comedian Jim Gaffigan on The Fun Tour. Aug. 28 at 6pm.
  • Jason Aldean with HARDY and Lainey Wilson. Sept. 9 at 7:30pm.
  • Megadeth and Lamb of God rescheduled for Sept. 22 at 6pm.
  • Shinedown with The Struts and Zero 9:36. Sept. 26 at 7pm.
  • NEEDTOBREATHE with Switchfoot and The New Respects. Oct. 19 at 7pm.
  • Jonas Brothers with Kelsea Ballerini. Oct. 21 at 7pm.
  • Dierks Bentley with Riley Green. Oct. 22 at 6pm.

6. 🧽 Kitchen sink: News that's worthy of your time

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

7. 🚀 One tweet thing: Space shoutout

A photo from the space station of Fayetteville, Arkansas

Screenshot: Twitter/@astro_kimbrough. Photo courtesy of NASA/Shane Kimbrough

🎩 It's not every day you get a tip of the hat from space. Do you think NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough is a Hog fan?

  • Kimbrough is aboard the International Space Station as part of Expedition 65. He's been up there for more than a month and will stay until October.

🍾 Alex is heading to Eureka Springs for a friend's bachelorette party.

🎧 Worth is listening to this and reading this.