Pioneering Attorney and Civil Rights Leader W. Harold Flowers dedicated his life to improving the lives of all Arkansas. Many of the civil liberties that Black Arkansas enjoy today were made possible by his pioneering efforts and contributions as a civil rights attorney and community activist.
Born October 16, 1911 in Stamps (Lafayette County), Arkansas, William Harold Flowers Sr. graduated from the Robert H. Terrell Law School in Washington, D.C. He was admitted to practice in Arkansas on October 21, 1935, after which he opened his law office in Pine Bluff.
In 1938, W. Harold Flowers became the first Black lawyer to present his own case before a court, ending a long time practice in Arkansas where only White lawyers were to appear before the judge. In 1940 Flowers created the Committee on Negro Organizations (CNO) to campaign for improved living conditions for Blacks throughout the state. Through the CNO, he, along with Thurgood Marshall, represented Little Rock teachers in their quest for equal pay. He would also use the organization as a bully pulpit to campaign throughout the state for equal school terms and educational facilities for Black children and opportunities for graduate studies for college graduates. To further solidify his role as a pioneering civil rights lawyer and activist, Flowers shepherded African-African student Silas H. Hunt through registration and enrollment as the first Black student to attend the law school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1947. That same year, Blacks were selected for jury duty for the first time since Reconstruction when Flowers defended two Black men accusing of murdering two White men.
Among his many impressive accomplishments, Flowers is credited with resuscitating the Wonder State Bar Association, an organization of Black attorneys that changed its name to the Arkansas Black Lawyers Association in the 1960s. In 1981, the association was renamed the W. Harold Flowers Law Society.
Flowers and his wife Margaret were the parents of nine children; two of them would become attorneys.
W. Harold Flowers died April 7, 1990.