Seal of Little Rock

Saturday, Aug 13, 2005

City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421

Media Releases

Contact(s): Scott Whiteley Carter 501-371-4421


20th Street Becomes Charles Bussey Avenue; Named for City’s First African American Mayor

Little Rock, AR (13 August 2005) Around 100 friends and family of the late Charles Bussey gathered today to pay tribute to his memory as 20th Street running through central Little Rock was renamed Charles Bussey Avenue. The new name is a lasting tribute to the memory of the man who served as Little Rock’s first African American Mayor in 1981 and 1982 and had, in 1968, become the first African American City Director in the City’s history. The ceremony took place at Broadway Street and Charles Bussey Avenue.

“Charlie’s heart was in this City,” said Mayor Jim Dailey. “So it is fitting that this street bearing his name goes right through the heart of Little Rock.” Dailey served with Bussey in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s on the City Board. At the ceremony he reminisced about their time together. “Especially in those early days on the Board, even before I served with him, African-Americans were really struggling to be involved. He helped so many people to be involved in Little Rock and the entire state.”

Joining Mayor Dailey in praising Bussey and his legacy were several friends. City Director Johnnie Pugh reminisced about Bussey and his family, noting that a sister of his was one of her teachers. She continued, “He certainly made Little Rock a better place for children and youths. Those that he touched have grown up and continued to be engaged in making the City a better place for everyone.”

Director Pugh also conveyed greetings from former Mayor Lottie Shackleford who served on the Board for over ten years with Bussey. Shackelford was unable to attend due to an out-of-state meeting. In her comments, she noted that he was “a first class dresser who spent much of his working life in and around City Hall. He was a man always on the move who worked to make Little Rock a first class city.” 

Myra Jones, a former State Representative and LR City Director, served as Vice Mayor when Bussey was Mayor. She fondly remembered how Bussey would encourage her when she first got on the Board. “He would tell me who to see, but never tell me what the purpose was. That was for me to discover; and in so doing, it made me a better Director.”

Among the other speakers were Larry Staggers, a longtime employee in the City’s Parks & Recreation Department. He called Bussey, “An extraordinary man in an extraordinary time.” He also spoke of Bussey’s involvement with youth dating back to Junior Deputy baseball in the 1940s. Staggers also discussed Bussey’s tireless efforts to find employment for area youth. Community leader Annie Abrams remembered Bussey as a trailblazer and breaker of the race barrier in many civic areas. State Senator Irma Hunter Brown, whose district includes much of Charles Bussey Avenue, also paid tribute to Bussey’s civic leadership and his encouragement in her first political race in 1980.

After the new street sign was unveiled, Charles Larry Bussey of St. Louis spoke on behalf of the family. He remembered his father as a hard worker in whatever he set out to do. He expressed appreciation to the City for remembering his father in this manner. He also paid tribute to his mother for her support of his father. Mrs. Maggie C. Bussey was unable to attend the ceremony due to declining health.

Over the coming days, the new street signs will be put up along the nearly thirty blocks that comprise Charles Bussey Avenue.