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Elaine, Arkansas
Location of Elaine in Phillips County, Arkansas.
Location of Elaine in Phillips County, Arkansas.
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Phillips
 • Total 0.51 sq mi (1.32 km2)
 • Land 0.51 sq mi (1.32 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
167 ft (51 m)
 • Total 509
 • Density 994.14/sq mi (384.19/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-20950
GNIS feature ID 0048832

Elaine (pronounced locally with the accent on the first syllable) is a very small town in Phillips County, Arkansas, United States, in the Arkansas Delta region of the Mississippi River. The population was 636 at the 2010 census.

The city is best known as the location of the Elaine massacre of September 30–October 1, 1919, in which an estimated 237 black people were slain in the rural county by rampaging white mobs. Five whites died in the events. This was one of the worst incidents of racial and labor violence in American history. Black sharecroppers were attempting to organize a farmers' union, which the planters resisted.


See also: Elaine Race Riot

In 1919, two whites tried to break up a meeting of black sharecroppers who were trying to organize a farmers' union to get better conditions of payment and accounting from white landowners of cotton plantations. After a white man was killed, hundreds of other whites poured into the area, attacking blacks. Governor Charles Hillman Brough requested federal troops to stop what was called the Elaine Race Riot. White mobs spread throughout the county, and an estimated 237 blacks were slain, and five whites. The governor accompanied the troops to the scene; their use had been approved by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Sharecroppers generally remained at a disadvantage in dealing with white landowners.

At 6:15 PM, April 26, 2011, a tornado – part of the April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak – hit the Elaine area. The tornado was classified as an EF-0, with estimated wind speeds of 75 miles per hour (121 km/h; 65 kn). The tornado's path of destruction was 200 yards (180 m) wide and the tornado travelled a path of 21.5 miles (34.6 km) along Highway 61 and across the Mississippi state line, ending near Lula, Mississippi. Most of the tornado's damage was concentrated in Friars Point and Coahoma, Mississippi.


Elaine is located at 34°18′31″N 90°51′15″W / 34.30861°N 90.85417°W / 34.30861; -90.85417 (34.308595, −90.854201).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2), all land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 377
1930 511 35.5%
1940 634 24.1%
1950 744 17.4%
1960 898 20.7%
1970 1,210 34.7%
1980 991 −18.1%
1990 846 −14.6%
2000 865 2.2%
2010 636 −26.5%
2020 509 −20.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

At the 2000 census there were 865 people in 330 households, including 222 families, in the city. The population density was 1,725.8 people per square mile (668.0/km2). There were 356 housing units at an average density of 710.3 per square mile (274.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 39.08% White, 58.15% Black or African American, 0.92% from other races, and 1.85% from two or more races. 6.01% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Agriculture includes rice production, which uses seasonal migrant laborers from Mexico and Latin America in the town, nearby Lake View, and the Helena area. Of the 330 households 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.2% were married couples living together, 30.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.7% were non-families. 31.2% of households were one person and 18.5% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.31.

The age distribution was 31.8% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 19.5% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% 65 or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 80.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 73.5 males.

The median household income was $19,479 and the median family income was $22,813. Males had a median income of $22,386 versus $18,056 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,640. About 33.5% of families and 41.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 59.1% of those under age 18 and 26.5% of those age 65 or over.


The Marvell–Elaine School District serves the community. Marvell Primary School and Marvell High School in Marvell serve Elaine.

Previously the Elaine School District served the community. On July 1, 2006, the Elaine district merged into the Marvell district. When the district existed, it operated Lucilia Wood Elementary School and Elaine High School.

Notable people

  • Levon Helm, musician
  • John Hughey, country musician
  • Barry Williamson, Texas politician, was reared in Elaine.
  • Jimmy McCracklin, blues musician, was born in Elaine
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