Reverend James Donald Rice Park

General Information

Grand Opening Reverend Rice Park - 130619- _mg_1146The Reverend James Donald Rice Park, located at 511 Pleasant Street, features benches, one basketball court, a drinking fountain, picnic tables, and a swing-set.

Rev. James Donald Rice 3History

The park is in memory of Reverend James Donald Rice Sr., who moved to Hot Springs in 1962 after accepting the position of Senior Pastor at the Historic Roanoke Baptist Church on Whittington Avenue. He and his family resided at 302 Garden Street, which is in the heart of the Gateway Community. Rice had experienced success as a community leader and civil rights activist in Kansas City, MO., where he had been first vice president of the Missouri Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Integration momentum was just beginning to gain traction in Garland County and local activist and journalist Kenneth Adair encouraged Rice to continue his work in Arkansas. In May 1963, as President of the local chapter of the NAACP, Reverend James Donald Rice led Hot Springs School District to the negotiating table to begin integration proceedings, as required by the Supreme Court ruling in Oliver L. Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas and the Hot Springs School District began the integration process in August of the same year. Rice and other city leaders continued to lead the community to a workable solution and the District was fully integrated by 1968 when a new $3 million Hot Springs High School campus was opened on Emory Street.

To see the park dedication, visit