Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash Represent Arkansas at the U.S. Capitol

“Daisy Bates, Johnny Cash, U.S. Capitol statues, Arkansas history, civil rights, music legend, Statuary Hall, representation change, Benjamin Victor, Kevin Kresse”

“Discover the significance of Arkansas replacing its century-old U.S. Capitol statues with civil rights icon Daisy Bates and music legend Johnny Cash. Explore how these new statues, embodying courage and creativity, reflect modern Arkansas values and contribute to a richer national heritage.”

Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash Represent Arkansas at the U.S. Capitol
Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash Represent Arkansas at the U.S. Capitol

The corridors of the U.S. Capitol, steeped in history, are set to welcome two new figures representing Arkansas, marking a significant shift in the way the state’s heritage and values are commemorated. Daisy Bates, a pivotal civil rights leader, and Johnny Cash, a music legend, will replace the century-old statues of lesser-known historical figures, bringing a fresh perspective to Arkansas’s legacy.

The Need for Change in Representation

For over a hundred years, the statues of James P. Clarke and Uriah Rose stood in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, representing Arkansas. However, these figures, who played roles in the state’s history during the 18th and 19th centuries, became points of contention due to their obscure legacies and Clarke’s racially charged statements. As former Governor Asa Hutchinson recalled, even young Arkansans visiting the Capitol were often unaware of these historical figures, signaling a disconnect between the state’s past representations and its present values.

In 2019, a decisive move by Arkansas lawmakers, led by Sen. Bart Hester and supported by Clarke Tucker, a descendant of James P. Clarke, initiated a change. This was propelled by a broader recognition of the need to update the figures to better reflect the current ethos and contributions of Arkansas’s people.

Daisy Bates: A Beacon of Courage and Equality

Daisy Bates, renowned for her role in the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock in 1957, will be one of the new faces in Statuary Hall. As the head of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP, Bates not only supported the Little Rock Nine but also significantly advanced the civil rights movement. Her efforts are commemorated annually on Daisy Bates Day, reflecting her lasting impact on Arkansas and the nation.

The new statue, crafted by Idaho sculptor Benjamin Victor, captures Bates in a dynamic pose, clutching a newspaper from the Arkansas State Press—a publication she ran with her husband—which championed civil rights. Holding a pen and notebook, adorned with a NAACP pin and a rose, the statue aims to inspire visitors to explore Bates’ legacy of advocacy and leadership.

Johnny Cash: The Resonant Voice of Arkansas

Johnny Cash, the “Man in Black,” is celebrated not only as a music icon but as a storyteller of the American experience. Born in Kingsland, Arkansas, Cash’s music spanned genres and earned him a place in both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His global impact is underscored by over 90 million records sold.

The statue of Cash, created by Little Rock sculptor Kevin Kresse, features him with a guitar and a Bible, symbolizing his deep connection to his roots and his complex persona. Kresse aims to reflect Cash’s authenticity and his thoughtful, introspective nature, which he believes will serve as a counterbalance to the often tumultuous atmosphere of Congress.

Reflecting Modern Arkansas

The replacement of the old statues with figures like Bates and Cash represents a significant cultural shift. It not only honors individuals who have profoundly influenced both their state and the nation but also signals a move towards representations that resonate more deeply with contemporary values. Sen. David Wallace, who sponsored the legislation for the new statues, emphasized that Bates and Cash epitomize the “common person” of Arkansas, highlighting the state’s rich cultural and historical diversity.


As these new statues take their place in the U.S. Capitol, they do more than represent physical replacements. They signify a rethinking of how history is commemorated and whose contributions are celebrated. For Arkansas, Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash do not just represent historical figures; they stand as timeless symbols of courage, creativity, and the ongoing struggle for justice and authenticity. Through these new statues, Arkansas redefines its identity in the halls of American history, celebrating a legacy that truly resonates with the spirit of its people.

Read More-

Leave a Comment