Black History Month Spotlight – Arkansas Baptist College

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.


Arkansas Baptist College, established in 1884 by Rev. E. C. Morris and the National Baptist Convention, trained black students to become ministers and teachers. One of the earliest historically black colleges in the state, Arkansas Baptist College was first hosted by neighborhood churches, including Mt. Zion Baptist. In 1885, the College finally settled at what is now 16th and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive.

Reverend Joseph A. Booker was appointed president of Arkansas Baptist College in 1887 and served for nearly forty years. Born into slavery, Booker was later educated at Nashville Institute in Tennessee. He not only scored early success for the college but also won acclaim as editor of Baptist Vanguard, a weekly publication produced on campus. Noted as a staunch opponent of Jim Crow segregation laws in Little Rock, Booker fought the Separate Coach Law of 1891.

In 2006, the College launched the African American Leadership Institute and in 2015 the Scott Ford Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development. Dr. Fitzgerald Hill has directed the resurgence of Arkansas Baptist College, securing federal grants and recruiting more students.

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