In Memoriam

Curtis H. Sykes (1930-2007)

Curtis H. Sykes, chair of the Black History Commission of Arkansas, died last month at a hospital in Little Rock from complications of diabetes. He was 76 years old.

As a boy, Sykes lived in North Little Rock. The children of his Chinese neighbors were permitted to attend the nearby white school. But Sykes was obliged to attend an all-black school in another section of the city. He became interested in the history of race relations in this country. By learning history, he believed, he could better understand how blacks had come to be treated as outcasts in society.

Sykes was a graduate of Arkansas Baptist College. In 1962 he became the first African American to earn a master’s degree at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He also had a second master’s degree from Texas College.

Sykes spent much of his professional career as a high school principal in Little Rock. At the time of his death he lived in a home two blocks from where he was born.