Longtime Arkansas activist Robert 'Say' McIntosh dies at 79

 June 26, 2023

Arkansas Democrats were dealt a blow this weekend when longtime activist Robert "Say" McIntosh passed away at the age of 79. 

The Arkansas Times described McIntosh as a "fiery Little Rock political activist and restauranteur" who "was known for his community-minded generosity and service."

McIntosh known for charity and controversial behavior

This included founding "a Christmas toy drive for poor children" and handing out free gifts while dressed as Santa Claus. McIntosh was also celebrated for serving free Thanksgiving dinners to needy families.

McIntosh was also known for his decades-long history of political activity, which sometimes involved controversial stunts.

The Times recalled how in one instance McIntosh protested what he saw as a lack of African American representation in Little Rock's city government by cutting down a tree planted on the state Capitol grounds in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1981, McIntosh turned down a meeting with then Arkansas Gov. Frank White and instead erected a cross at the Capitol to symbolize his "crucifixion," something which resulted in him being hospitalized for heatstroke.

Activist accused Bill Clinton of fathering a black son

McIntosh also targeted Gov. Bill Clinton, accusing him of having secretly fathered a black son from an extramarital affair.

In his later years, McIntosh promoted an anti-violence campaign as homicide rates rose within Arkansas's black community.

Tributes to McIntosh quickly appeared on social media, including from pastor and current Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.

Scott tweeted "Rest in power and Love, Robert 'Say' McIntosh. Elder McIntosh was a true Little Rock legend, businessman and activist."

McIntosh remembered for giving "so much to the community"

"He tore down systemic walls of inequity so we could walk through them," the mayor continued, adding, "Prayers for the McIntosh family’s strength and comfort."

Meanwhile, another supporter of McIntosh declared that there "never will be another like him" while stressing that he "gave so much to the community [and] family."

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