Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


Black History Month Spotlight – Politics and Law

Mahlon Martin Jr., City Manager Bruce T. Moore, Honorable Lottie Shackelford, Charles Bussey Jr.

Mahlon Martin Jr., City Manager Bruce T. Moore, Honorable Lottie Shackelford, Charles Bussey Jr.

The new Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour was launched in November 2015. Produced by the City of Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock allows the many places and stories of the City’s Civil Rights history to come to life an interactive tour.  This month, during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture looks at some of the stops on this tour which focus on African American history.

The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail was launched in 2011 by the UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity.  Each year, a theme is chosen to honor a particular group of people who were active in Arkansas’s civil rights movement.  Year by year, the trail grows.  The plan is that over time the trail will stretch from the current starting point at the Old State House, down West Markham Street and President Clinton Avenue to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and then back up the other side of the street to opposite the Old State House.

Politics and Law have been two central pillars in civil rights struggles.

The honorees contributed to those struggles in Arkansas in a number of ways. Annie Mae Bankhead was a community activist in Little Rock’s black College Station neighborhood; Charles Bussey was Little Rock’s first black mayor; Jeffery Hawkins was unofficial mayor of Little Rock’s black East End neighborhood; I. S. McClinton was head of the Arkansas Democratic Voters Association; Irma Hunter Brown was the first black woman elected to the Arkansas General Assembly; Mahlon Martin was Little Rock’s first black city manager; Richard L. Mays and Henry Wilkins III were among the first blacks elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in the twentieth century.

Lottie Shackelford was Little Rock’s first black woman mayor; Wiley Branton was head of the Southern Regional Council’s Voter Education Project in the 1960s; William Harold Flowers laid the foundations for the Arkansas State Conference of NAACP branches; Scipio Africanus Jones defended twelve black prisoners after the 1919 Elaine Race Riot; Olly Neal was the first black district prosecuting attorney in Arkansas; and John Walker for over five decades has been involved in civil rights activism in the courts.

The app, funded by a generous grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, was a collaboration among UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, with assistance from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Little Rock Look Back: Leap Day City Council meetings

CLR Leap Day 1932February 29 may come around only once every four years, but it is even rarer for the City of Little Rock to have City Council or City Board meetings on that date.

The most recent official meeting on a Leap Day was on February 29, 1932.  Mayor Horace A. Knowlton presided with all sixteen Aldermen present.  Among the items discussed were regulating of junk dealers, taxes on slot machines, a building condemnation, and setting a license fee for bowling alleys.

There were several issues related to cemeteries discussed throughout the evening.  One forbade any new burials in a section of Oakland Cemetery while another sought to prohibit the creation of any new cemeteries within the City limits.  The Council also passed a motion instructing the Mayor to notify the State Board of Health that the City was “seriously objecting and would strenuously oppose the establishment of a [new] Cemetery within the present boundaries of the City of Little Rock.”  The final cemetery issue was the acceptance of the annual report of the Mount Holly Cemetery Association.

That night the Council also passed a resolution to name the city government hospital as “Little Rock City Hospital.” The purpose of the name was to “clearly designate said hospital to the citizens of Little Rock as the hospital owned and operated by the City of Little Rock.”

The issue which seems to have taken up most of the time was overriding a Mayoral veto of a resolution opposing the firing of a firefighter.  The motion to sustain the veto ended in a tie. After the Mayor promised to rehire the firefighter as soon as a vacancy occurred, on alderman changed his vote and the veto was sustained.

The only other City Council meeting on a February 29 was in 1892.  Mayor H. L. Fletcher presided over the meeting.  The main focuses of that meeting were to discuss boundaries of various sewer districts, pay the monthly bills, approve the relocation of a house from 9th Street to the corner of 12th Street and Commerce Street and to bring certain City criminal penalties in line with a new state law.


This afternoon UALR Creative Writing faculty reading and Braddock Ave. Books Book Release Celebration

Frank Thurmond

Frank Thurmond

There will be afternoon of literature, music, and food at Vino’s today (February 28). UALR faculty members Jeffrey Condran, Frank Thurmond, and H.K. Hummel will share new work, and Braddock Avenue Books will be celebrating the release of The Benedictines by Northern Michigan University professor, Rachel May. Books will be for sale.

Jeffrey Condran is the author of the story collection, A Fingerprint Repeated (Press 53). His debut novel, Prague Summer (Counterpoint), was published in August 2014 and received a 2015 Independent Publisher Book Award’s Silver Medal. His fiction has appeared in journals such as The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, and Epoch, and has been awarded the The Missouri Review’s 2010 William Peden Prize and Pushcart Prize nominations. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and co-founder/publisher of the independent literary press, Braddock Avenue Books.

H.K. Hummel is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Boytreebird (2013) and Handmade Boats (2010). Her poems have recently appeared in Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, Meridian, Heron Tree, Booth, and Iron Horse Review. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and founding editor of Blood Orange Review.

Frank H. Thurmond is the author of Before I Sleep: A Memoir of Travel & Reconciliation and Ring of Five: A Novella and Four Stories. His work has appeared in the International Herald Tribune; The Best of Tales from the South, Volume 6; Toad Suck Review; and in William Safire’s language book No Uncertain Terms. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


Black History Month Spotlight – Healthcare Pioneers

UALR Trail HealthcareThe new Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour was launched in November 2015. Produced by the City of Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock allows the many places and stories of the City’s Civil Rights history to come to life an interactive tour.  This month, during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture looks at some of the stops on this tour which focus on African American history.

The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail was launched in 2011 by the UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity.  Each year, a theme is chosen to honor a particular group of people who were active in Arkansas’s civil rights movement.  Year by year, the trail grows.  The plan is that over time the trail will stretch from the current starting point at the Old State House, down West Markham Street and President Clinton Avenue to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and then back up the other side of the street to opposite the Old State House.

Healthcare

Healthcare has long been a civil rights issue. In the age of segregation, many blacks were denied healthcare by white physicians and hospitals under Jim Crow laws. African American physicians-such as Cleon A. Flowers, Sr., and John Marshall Robinson-played important roles in serving the black community. Nurse Lena Lowe Jordan founded the Lena Jordan Hospital in Little Rock in the 1930s. Edith Mae Irby desegregated the University of Arkansas Medical School in Little Rock in 1948. Dr. Irby paved the way for other black students and professors at the school. Thomas A. Bruce promoted access to quality healthcare to the underserved. Henry W. Foster became dean of Meharry Medical College in Tennessee. Billy Ray Thomas and Phillip Leon Rayford worked to increase underrepresented groups in the medical profession. Samuel Lee Kountz pioneered organ transplants. Joycelyn Elders, a UAMS graduate and director of the Arkansas Department of Health, served as the surgeon general of the United States during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

The app, funded by a generous grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, was a collaboration among UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, with assistance from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Little Rock Look Back: NINE FROM LITTLE ROCK wins Documentary Oscar

AMPAS Nine from LROn April 5, 1965, the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject went to the film “Nine from Little Rock.”

Narrated by Jefferson Thomas, Charles Guggenheim’s documentary looks at the nine African-American students who enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Thomas, one of the students reflects on the state of race relations in the seven years that had elapsed (up to 1964).  The film also focuses on Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford and Thelma Mothershed.

Guggenheim both directed and co-wrote the film. The latter credit was shared with Shelby Storck, who also produced the film.   The film had been commissioned by George Stevens, Jr., for the United State Information Agency.

The Oscar that night was Guggenheim’s first of four.  His others would be for: 1968’s “Robert Kennedy Remembered” (Live Action Short), 1989’s “The Johnstown Flood” (Documentary Short) and 1994’s “A Time for Justice” (Documentary Short).  His son Davis Guggenheim won the Oscar for Documentary, Feature for An Inconvenient Truth.

The film was digitally restored by the Motion Picture Preservation Lab for the 50th anniversary of its win for Best Short Documentary at the 1965 Academy Awards.  It is available for purchase on DVD and can also be viewed in its entirety on YouTube


Bernstein and Brahms this weekend with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

ASO B&BThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth concert of the 2015-2016 Masterworks series: Bernstein & Brahms, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 27 and 3:00 p.m. Sunday, February 28 at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center at Maumelle High School. Eight collegiate choruses join the ASO to perform Brahms’s German Requiem and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. Bernstein & Brahms is sponsored by CHI St. Vincent. The Masterworks Series is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org; at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to Sunday’s matinee free of charge with the purchase of an adult ticket using the Entergy Kids’ Ticket, downloadable at www.ArkansasSymphony.org/freekids

Choral Ensembles
The ASO will collaborate with choirs from around the state of Arkansas for Bernstein & Brahms. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Vesper Choir is featured on Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and Brahms’s German Requiem features choirs from Arkansas State University, Harding University,  Lyon College, Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Central Arkansas, and the Arkansas Chamber Singers.

Concert Conversations
All concert ticket holders are invited to a pre-concert lecture an hour before each Masterworks concert. These talks feature insights from the Maestro and guest artists, and feature musical examples to enrich the concert experience.

Shuttle service is available
The ASO provides shuttle service from Second Presbyterian Church in Pleasant Valley to the Maumelle Performing Arts Center and back after the concert. For more information and to purchase fare at $10 per rider per concert, please visit https://www.arkansassymphony.org/concerts-tickets/shuttle-service

 

Program
Bernstein            Chichester Psalms
with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Vesper Choir

Brahms                 Ein Deutsches Requiem
with mass collegiate choir and the Arkansas Chamber Singers

Program notes
Bernstein composed Chichester Psalms during a sabbatical from conducting in 1965. In his own words, “I wrote a lot of music, twelve-tone music and avant garde music of various kinds, and a lot of it was very good, and I threw it all away. And what I came out with at the end of the year was a piece called Chichester Psalms, which is simple and tonal and tuneful and as pure B-flat as any piece you can think of.” Ein Deutsches Requiem was not composed for the people of Germany, but in the German language and was intended to be addressed to all mankind. Breaking from the historic requiem form, in which there is a strong focus on Judgment and the seeking of forgiveness, Brahms instead concentrates on offering consolation to the living who are mourning their departed loved ones.


Black History Month Spotlight – Downtown Desegregation

Ozell Sutton, one of the honorees

Ozell Sutton, one of the honorees

The new Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour was launched in November 2015. Produced by the City of Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock allows the many places and stories of the City’s Civil Rights history to come to life an interactive tour.  This month, during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture looks at some of the stops on this tour which focus on African American history.

The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail was launched in 2011 by the UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity.  Each year, a theme is chosen to honor a particular group of people who were active in Arkansas’s civil rights movement.  Year by year, the trail grows.  The plan is that over time the trail will stretch from the current starting point at the Old State House, down West Markham Street and President Clinton Avenue to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and then back up the other side of the street to opposite the Old State House.

Downtown Desegregation

In January 1963, Little Rock set in motion a process that ended segregation in its downtown businesses.  Following student sit-ins coordinated by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Philander Smith College students, in November 1962 white businessmen and merchants formed a secret Downtown Negotiating Committee to set out a timetable for change in consultation with black community representatives.  On January 1, 1963, lunch counters in downtown Little Rock began to serve black customers on an equal basis.  Downtown hotels desegregated their facilities.  Drinking fountains and restrooms had their “White” and “Colored” signs removed.  In June, movie theaters desegregated.  In October, city restaurants desegregated.  That same year, Robinson Auditorium, the Arkansas Arts Center, and city parks desegregated.  In April 1963, in Jet magazine, James Forman, executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, hailed the city as “just about the most integrated…in the South.”

The app, funded by a generous grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, was a collaboration among UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, with assistance from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.