Black History Spotlight – Dunbar Historic Neighborhood

DunbarNeighborhoodThe 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 Paul Laurence Dunbar School Historic District played an important role as the center of Little Rock’s African American community from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.  Development began around Wesley Chapel, organized in 1853.

The neighborhood expanded after the Civil War to become home to many African Americans noted for their success in a number of fields, including business, politics, religion, education, law, music, and medicine. Among the historically black institutions that were founded in the neighborhood and remain there today are several churches, including Wesley Chapel United Methodist, Bethel A.M.E., Mount Pleasant Baptist, Mount Zion Baptist, and Union A.M.E.; and two colleges, Arkansas Baptist and Philander Smith.

The existing Dunbar School replaced an older high school that was named for Mifflin Gibbs, a prominent African American lawyer and political leader who lived in the neighborhood.  Today, Gibbs Elementary School continues the recognition of Gibbs.

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.