Published December 20, 2015
Arkansas Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor argued that the federal government’s desegregation of Arkansas’s largest public school in 1957 was an “unwilling invasion” that took “a local problem out of the local authorities’ hands” and led to deep suspicions of democracy in the state, according to a copy of his college thesis obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Written in 1985, the 30-page paper—which also suggested that the state’s Democratic Party was hindering economic progress, and attributed policies such as welfare and the Equal Rights Amendment to “wild-eyed liberals”—could add to Pryor’s difficulties as he fights to protect his seat from Republican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton.
College writings have become a campaign issue in the Arkansas Senate race, with the Pryor campaign and national Democrats attacking Cotton for his student newspaper columns and senior thesis.
The paper is housed at the University of Arkansas special collections library, which suspended the Washington Free Beacon‘s library privileges earlier this year. Pryor, who graduated from the university in 1985, wrote that the thesis was influenced by his work on his father David Pryor’s 1984 senatorial campaign.
In the essay, Pryor argued that the Democratic Party’s dominance in the state stemmed from public’s need for protection against external threats, comparing this to the Russian people backing Tsarist and Communist governments.
“Arkansas has been invaded unwillingly twice. Once in reality and once figuratively,” wrote Pryor.
“The Civil War provided the real invasion. The figurative invasion took place in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School. That event took a local problem out of the local authorities’ hands. The federal government had again forced its will on the people of Arkansas.”