Final Horace Mann High School Graduation – June 2, 1971

Ms. Wordlow and Mr. Wilkins

On Wednesday, June 2, 1971, the final graduation took place for Horace Mann High School. Opened in the spring of 1956, it had served as Little Rock’s all African American high school for fifteen years. (Since the high schools reopened in August 1959, Central and Hall High had both been gradually increasing the number of African American students each year but students zoned for Mann continued to have the opportunity to attend that school.)

Two-hundred and forty students made up the final class. The graduation took place at Barton Coliseum on June 2.  Three days earlier, the Baccalaureate service took place at the school. The top graduate of the class was Samuel Ray Wilkins, with Eloise Wordlow ranked number two.

1971 marked the first graduating class at Little Rock’s newest high school, Parkview. The presence of that school helped hasten the end of Mann.  This was supposed to be the penultimate year for Mann, under the Little Rock School District’s plan. But in the summer of 1971, a federal court order mandated that Mann no longer serve as a one race high school effective the start of the 1971-1972 school year.

Because of the court order hastening the end of Mann as a high school, there was no opportunity to reflect on Mann’s legacy or note the final graduation.

So the group which thought they would be the final Mann class was instead split up to attend Central, Hall, and Parkview.  Mann was made into a junior high effective that new school year. The students who were supposed to be Mann’s last class have called themselves the 1972 Horace Mann Transitional Class and still have reunions.

Mann had followed Paul Laurence Dunbar High School as Little Rock’s African American high school. That facility had opened in 1929 with a junior high and junior college also in the same building.  Following the opening of Mann, Dunbar became solely a junior high.  The junior college component was dropped in 1955 with no publicly stated reason.

Prior to Dunbar, there had been Gibbs School which served as a primary and secondary school for Little Rock’s African American students beginning in the early 1900s. Eventually the elementary students were located in another building, which was the precursor to today’s Gibbs Elementary School.

Before Gibbs School, Capitol Hill and Union schools both existed at roughly the same time. Both included elementary, junior high, and high school students. After Gibbs School opened, they continued to serve as schools. Capitol Hill lasted as an elementary school into the 1940s.

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Annual LRSD Artistry in the Rock runs from March 12 to 15

The Little Rock School District’s annual celebration of the arts in the schools, Artistry in the Rock starts today and runs through Friday, March 15.

It is in a new location this year: Arkansas State Fairgrounds Hall of Industry Building.

A celebration and showcase of LRSD student talent in the performing & visual arts. FREE and Open to the Public!

Tuesday, March 12 (MORNING)
9:30 Western Hills Eagle Band
9:45 Fulbright Pop Choir
10:00 PVMS Treble Choir
10:20 Terry Orff Skit
10:35 Central Madrigals
11:00 Washington Drumming
11:15 PVMS Concert Band
11:35 Parkview Girl’s Chorus and Piano students
12:05 Parkview Jazz Band

Wednesday, March 13 (MORNING)
9:30 Rockefeller Drum and Dance
9:50 Chicot Choir
10:05 FHSA Concert Band
10:35 FHSA World Music
10:55 Gibbs Orff
11:10 JA Fair Drama
11:25 PVMS Mixed Choir
11:40 DMMS Jazz Band

Thursday, March 14 (MORNING)
9:30 Booker Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance
10:00 HMMS Choir
10:30 Dodd Recorder Ensemble
10:45 PHMS Choir
11:10 Central Musical Theatre
11:40 Jazz Central

Thursday, March 14 (EVENING)
6:00 Voices Without Borders, an elementary honor ensemble
6:30 Awards Presentations
7:00 All-City Middle School Band
7:45 All-City High School Band

Friday, March 15 (MORNING)
9:30 Mabelvale Drum and Groove
10:00 Meadowcliff Singers
10:20 HMMS Concert Band
10:50 FHSA Choir
11:15 Otter Creek
11:35 McClellan Choir

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.

2015 In Memoriam – Susan Purvis

1515 PurvisRemembering Susan Turner Purvis, Artist and Teacher – by Judy Baker Goss

From the bulletin, “A Service of Resurrection and Thanksgiving to God for Susan Turner Purvis:”

In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love. 

-Marc Chagall

On July 22, there were many reasons that an overflowing crowd filled the sanctuary of Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church to memorialize the radiant life of Susan Turner Purvis. I believe that her large heART was the root of them all. A native of Hope who lived in Little Rock over forty years, Susan’s love deeply touched family, friends, fellow teachers and artists, and students.

Fortunately, I knew Susan for half a century. We met as Hendrix freshmen living in Galloway Hall, where she was the ringleader for fun. Packed three girls to a room, we were the last class to endure Hendrix’s version of orientation “hazing.” When commanded, “Button, Freshman,” we fell to a knee in dresses, one hand touching beanie cap, and sounded off, “Good afternoon, Miss Jones, m’am, I’m freshman Susan Turner from Hope, Arkansas, m’am.”  An “upperclasswoman” told Susan and her roomies to “fly like birds” into the dining hall for supper, but Susan topped that comical idea. Looking adorably innocent, Susan’s impulses were extremely impish. She made bloody bandages from huge gauze pads dripping with red lipstick blood, which they taped to their knees. They boldly flapped in that evening, giggling in front of the astonished crowd! Wherever Susan went, there was laughter, and many anecdotes prove that she never sought sainthood. The blessings she showered on others, however, gave her the aura of cherished guardian angel.

Susan knew she was an artist in college, as I was stepping into theatre, and she always encouraged my dreams. We know this was her nature, too. During her twenty-eight year career as Art Specialist at Gibbs International Studies Magnet School, which she began with no classroom and, rather, one table and a box of Mardi Gras beads, she not only provided excellent art education, but she aligned her efforts with others, enhancing the creative potential of all.  Discovering that a former Gibbs custodian, Eddie Lee Kendrick, was a self-taught artist, she facilitated his joining her for a year at Gibbs and then co-curated a show of his work with the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Arkansas Arts Center. When she worked with a project of the Rockefeller Foundation, UALR and the Japanese-American Museum in Los Angeles dealing with the Japanese-Americans who were relocated during World War II, especially to the Arkansas camps at Jerome and Rowher, she co-wrote curriculum for social studies and art teachers based on those internees’ experiences. Her Gibbs students made a wonderful quilt reflecting their encounters with this curriculum. Susan brought people together to move forward, through art, to greater human understanding.

Her approach to learning always demonstrated curiosity and creativity, making something new from what was at hand. By no accident did her methods produce remarkable results time and again. Her students won many awards, some in the exclusive International Children’s Art Exhibition sponsored by Pentel.  In nineteen of the twenty-six years that Gibbs students’ work was accepted in the Young Arkansas Artists (YAA) exhibition through the Arkansas Arts Center, they won “Best in Class.” In 2015, Susan’s retirement year, two Gibbs group projects won awards. Also beloved by her professional peers, she was twice named Arkansas Elementary Art Educator of the Year and once as Arkansas Art Educator of the Year.

Bright and well-educated, Susan’s contributions were never limited to theory; her talented efforts blossomed through personal relationships: Susan provided her full self. She convinced students that they were artists by opening their hearts to believe it and coaxing their visions into art objects, the solid evidence. She presented core ideas which students could research and expand and for which they could imagine inclusive group participation to produce results. Their remarkable achievements sprang from authentic shared creativity. I agreed with Susan that there is no higher educational goal. The outpouring on Facebook by young adults whom Susan taught at Gibbs often referenced specific examples of her inspired teaching, which still nurtures them today.

One of my happiest memories of Susan is a joyful collaboration on a music and arts project with other young mothers at our church in 1986. We guided elementary students, including our children, to create their own Christmas pageant.  They wrote a script from Bible stories, selected songs, built props and acted the play in the sanctuary. Susan and I loved the children’s interpretations, especially their decision that someone should BE the star of Bethlehem, and “it should move.” With Susan’s direction, they created a stunning orb, which was carried atop a pole down the center aisle, one of the high points in “Starry, Starry Night.” Yes, think Van Gogh, too, for Susan added art history along the way. It’s apt to say we followed Susan, our star.

Time and again, I saw that Susan’s vision of the power of self-expression was all-encompassing. It mattered to her how others experience the world, and her empathy for them, especially for children, opened the heavens for us all.

Great grief pours from great joy and love, and though the light of her life will not fade, Susan is deeply missed in this community. I treasure reminders of Susan: the faces of her family and friends, the photos and stories we’ll share over and over, her voice in my mind’s ear, and her artist’s spirit tucked deep in my heart.

Rebecca Wells headlines first day of 12th Annual Arkansas Literary Festival

2015 ALF 1The 12th annual Arkansas Literary Festival kicks off today.

  • From 5pm to 7pm, there will be a book sale preview party at River Market Books & Gifts in the Cox Creative Center.
  • At 5:30, the exhibit “Page Turners” featuring Bryan Collier will open at Hearne Fine Art.
  •  At 6pm, there will be a Summer Reading Club Preview on the 3rd floor of the Main Library.
  •  Rebecca Wells will discuss “Divine Secrets” at 7pm on stage at the Ron Robinson Theatre. She is the author of the “Ya Ya Sisterhood” books. She will also return to Little Rock in 2016 to perform her one-woman show at the Arkansas Rep.

Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for Pulaski county elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.

Support for the Literary Festival is provided by sponsors including Central Arkansas Library System, Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL), Arkansas Humanities Council, Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, ProSmart Printing, Little Rock Family, KUAR FM 89.1, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sync, Arkansas Life, Clinton Foundation, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Windstream, Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Arkansas Times, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Hampton Inn Downtown/McKibbon Hotel Group, Capital Hotel, Historic Arkansas Museum , TransAmerica, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Arkansas Library Association, Pulaski Technical College, Union Pacific, Sequoyah National Research Center, Gibbs Elementary School, Rockefeller Elementary School, Hendrix College, Hendrix College Project Pericles Program, Arkansas Women’s Forum, Philander Smith College, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, East Harding, University of Arkansas at Little Rock English Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing, Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art, Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, Christ Episcopal Church, and Lamar Advertising. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Arkansas Literary Festival is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System. The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival. Katherine Whitworth is the 2015 Festival Chair. Other committee chairs include Kevin Brockmeier, Talent Committee; Susan Santa Cruz, Festival Guides; Laura Stanley, Hospitality Gifts; and Amy Bradley-Hole, Moderators.

Lineup for 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival announced

alf maurice               Prestigious award-winners, big names, GRAMMY nominees, filmmakers, journalists, and artists are among the diverse roster of presenters who will be providing sessions at the twelfth annual Arkansas Literary Festival, April 23-26, 2015. The Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library campus and many other Little Rock venues are the sites for a stimulating mix of sessions, panels, special events, performances, workshops,presentations, opportunities to meet authors, book sales, and book signings. Most events are free and open to the public.

The Arkansas Literary Festival, the premier gathering of readers and writers in Arkansas, will include more than 80 presenters including featured authors John Waters, Rebecca Wells, Charles D. Morgan, Andrew Keen, Cheryl & Griff Day, Issa Rae, Ted Rall, Rick Bragg, Megan Abbott, Seph Lawless, Wesley K. Clark, and Bryan Collier.

This year’s Festival authors have won an impressive number and variety of distinguished awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Purple Heart, GLAAD Stephen F. Kolzak Award, Hugo Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Caldecott Honor, American Society of Newspaper Editor’s Distinguished Writing Award, Hammett Prize, Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, Bram Stoker Award, Whiting Writers Award, Plimpton Prize, Shorty Award for best web show, Beatrice Hawley award, New York Times Editor’s Selection, Poets Prize, Romantic Times Legend of Romance, Porter Prize, a James Beard Award nominee, the U.S. nominee for the Hans Christen Andersen Award, and more.

Special events for adults during the Festival include a cocktail reception with the authors, a session with John Waters, special art exhibits, and a workshop on developing a personal style. Panels and sessions include genres and topics such as scientific thinking, Jerry Lee Lewis, the web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, comic art, romance, war, and baking.

Children’s special events include a Tiny Ninja workshop, and a play based on Chicken Little and the Little Red Hen. Festival sessions for children will take place at both the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center, 4800 10th Street, and the Youth Services Department at the Main Library, 100 Rock Street. Special events for teens include a session with E. Lockhart, whose book, We Were Liars, was the best reviewed book for young adults in 2014..

Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for Pulaski county elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.

Support for the Literary Festival is provided by sponsors including Central Arkansas Library System, Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL), Arkansas Humanities Council, Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, ProSmart Printing, Little Rock Family, KUAR FM 89.1, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sync, Arkansas Life, William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Windstream, Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Arkansas Times, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Hampton Inn Downtown/McKibbon Hotel Group, Capital Hotel, Historic Arkansas Museum , TransAmerica, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Arkansas Library Association, Pulaski Technical College, Union Pacific, Sequoyah National Research Center, Gibbs Elementary School, Rockefeller Elementary School, Hendrix College, Hendrix College Project Pericles Program, Arkansas Women’s Forum, Philander Smith College, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, East Harding, University of Arkansas at Little Rock English Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing, Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art, Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, Christ Episcopal Church, and Lamar Advertising. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Author! Author!, a cocktail reception with the authors, will be Friday, April 24, at 7 p.m. and the Fred Darragh Distinguished Lecture with John Waters, will be Saturday, April 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets for both events are $25 in advance, and $40 at the door, and go on sale at ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org beginning Tuesday, April 1. Author! Author! tickets will also be available for purchase at the Main Library and River Market Books & Gifts, 120 River Market Avenue.

The Arkansas Literary Festival is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System.  The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival. Katherine Whitworth is the 2015 Festival Chair. Other committee chairs include Kevin Brockmeier, Talent Committee; Susan Santa Cruz, Festival Guides; Laura Stanley, Hospitality Gifts; and Amy Bradley-Hole, Moderators.

For more information about the 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival, visit ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org, or contact Brad Mooy at bmooy@cals.org or 918-3098. For information on volunteering at the Festival, contact Angela Delaney at adelaney@cals.orgor 918-3095.

Lineup for April’s 11th Annual Arkansas Literary Festival Announced

1359064160-litfest_logoAs winter drones on, a person’s fancy may turn to thoughts of spring. Or to a good book to read by candlelight to pass the time in winter.

In any way, a certain harbinger of warmer weather will be the presence in April of the 11th annual Arkansas Literary Festival.

Prestigious award-winners, big names, writers for television shows, journalists, and artists are among the diverse roster of presenters who will be providing sessions at the eleventh annual Arkansas Literary Festival, April 24-27, 2014. The Central Arkansas Library System‘s Main Library campus and many other Little Rock venues are the sites for a stimulating mix of sessions, panels, special events, performances, workshops, presentations, opportunities to meet authors, book sales, and book signings. Most events are free and open to the public.

The Arkansas Literary Festival, the premier gathering of readers and writers in Arkansas, will include more than 80 presenters including featured authors Catherine Coulter, who has more than seventy million books in print; Congressman John Lewis, one of the key figures in the civil rights movement; best-selling authors Mary Roach, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Curtis Sittenfeld, and artist/illustrator Kadir Nelson; musician Rhett Miller; and education expert David L. Kirp.

This year’s Festival authors have won an impressive number and variety of distinguished awards, including ten Emmy awards, multiple National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and grants, two Pulitzer Prizes, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (the Genius Grant), the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Caldecott Honor, an NAACP Image Award, an Eisner Award, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, the American Book Award, the O. Henry Prize, recognition as one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35, and much more.

Their works have been included in the New York TimesRolling Stone, Bon Appétit, Glamour, Playboy, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Slate, Mother Jones, and the Washington Post, among others.

Special events for adults during the Festival include a cocktail reception with the authors, a writing workshop with Catherine Coulter, a concert by Rhett Miller, and a presentation by an art historian which includes an Artists Buffet. Panels and sessions include genres and topics such as chocolate, lucid dreaming, graphic novels, the war in Iraq, short stories, Arkansas food, murder mysteries, football, dinosaurs, and gangsters.

Children’s special events include a storytime on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion, a treasure hunt, a play based on The Little Engine That Could, and a Lego exhibit. Festival sessions for children will take place at both the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center, 4800 10th Street, and the Youth Services Department at the Main Library, 100 Rock Street.

At Level 4, the Main Library’s teen center, special events for teens include a robotics demonstration and a panel on comic book conventions.

Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for Pulaski county elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.

Support for the Literary Festival is provided by sponsors including Central Arkansas Library System; Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL); Arkansas Humanities Council; Department of Arkansas Heritage; Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation; Mosaic Templars Cultural Center; ProSmart Printing; KUAR FM 89.1; Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau; Arkansas Democrat Gazette; Sync; Arkansas Life; William J. Clinton Presidential Center; Oxford American; Landers FIAT of Benton; MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History; Arkansas Times; Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP; University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service; Historic Arkansas Museum ; Christ Church, Little Rock’s Downtown Episcopal Church; Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center; Arkansas Library Association; Goss Management Company, LLC; Henderson State University; Hendrix College Project Pericles Program; Pulaski Technical College; Arkansas Arts Center; River’s Edge Media; Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre; Rockefeller Elementary School; Gibbs Elementary School; Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center; Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow; Arkansas Governor’s Mansion; Hendrix College Creative Writing; University of Arkansas at Little Rock English Department; University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing; Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art; Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack; Literacy Action of Central Arkansas; National Park Service Central High School National Historic Site; Tales from the South; and Power 92 Jams. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Author! Author!, a cocktail reception with the authors, will be Friday, April 25, at 8 p.m.; tickets are $25 in advance, and $40 at the door, and go on sale at ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org beginning Tuesday, April 1. Author! Author! tickets will also be available for purchase at the Main Library and River Market Books & Gifts, 120 River Market Avenue.

The Arkansas Literary Festival is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System. The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival. Jay Jennings is the 2014 Festival Chair. Other committee chairs include Katherine Whitworth, Talent Committee; Lisa Donovan, Youth Programs; and Amy Bradley-Hole, Moderators.

For more information about the 2014 Arkansas Literary Festival, visit ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org, or contact Brad Mooy at bmooy@cals.org or 501-918-3098. For information on volunteering at the Festival, contact Angela Delaney atadelaney@cals.org or 501-918-3095.