Black History Month Spotlight – Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

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 Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Museum collects, preserves, interprets and celebrates Arkansas’s unique African American political, economic, and social achievement from 1865 to 1950. The Center resides in the footprint of the original Mosaic Templars of America National Headquarters and Annex Buildings.

The permanent museum exhibits depict historic West Ninth Street as a thriving commercial and social hub, focusing on the black entrepreneurship, Templars organization, and the legacy of black legislators. Between 1868 and 1893, eighty-five African Americans served in the Arkansas General Assembly. The majority served in the House, with nine in the Senate. Election laws passed in 1891, together with a poll tax in 1832, ended the election of African Americans to the legislature. No black person served again until the General Assembly in 1973.

In addition to community educational programs, the Center offers a genealogy research room, an art collection created by local talent, and a well-stocked store. The Center’s third floor features a replica of the original Headquarters Building auditorium and the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame galleries.

The Center is a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and admission is free.

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.