Black History Month Spotlight – Little Rock Cemeteries

Mount Holly greyThe 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.

Mount Holly Cemetery: Broadway at Twelfth Street, est. 1843

Oakland and Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park: 2101 S. Barber, est. 1863

Haven of Rest Cemetery: 1702 Twelfth Street, est. 1903

National African Americans and important civil rights leaders are interred in several local cemeteries.

Mount Holly Cemetery is the final resting place of enslaved people, who were buried in their owner’s family plots, and the graves of several free blacks in the mid-1800s. One notable black leader buried here is Nathan Warren, founding pastor of Bethel AME Church. A marker is dedicated to Quatie Ross, wife of Cherokee Chief John Ross, who died along the Trail of Tears in 1839.

Oakland and Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park is composed of several cemeteries serving different communities: Oakland, Confederate, National, Jewish, and Fraternal, an historically black cemetery. Civil rights advocates buried in Fraternal include Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, John E. Bush, Charlotte Andrews Stephens, Dr. John Marshall Robinson, Isaac Gillam, Sr. and Jr., Asa l. Richmond, as well as members of the influential Pankey and Ish families.

Haven of Rest Cemetery is the largest cemetery for black people in Little Rock. Among the graves here are those of Daisy Gatson Bates, civil rights activist and mentor to the Little Rock Nine; attorney Scipio Africanus Jones; and Rev. Joseph Booker, president of Arkansas Baptist College.

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

Black History Month Spotlight – Mosaic Templars of America

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 of America was formed as a business in the late 1870s by Arkansas freedmen John E. Bush and Chester W. Keatts to provide insurance and other services to black people, and was incorporated as a fraternal organization in 1882. The Mosaic Templars name was derived from the biblical Moses who led his people out of bondage and relates to black America’s journey out of slavery.

By the 1920s the Templars’ organization extended to 26 states and six Caribbean nations. At the time, as one of the largest black-owned business enterprises in the world, Templars’ holdings included the original insurance company, a building and loan association, a publishing company, a business college, a nursing school and a hospital. For more than 40 years, the Templars Headquarters Building and the adjoining Annex and State Temple buildings on Broadway anchored the city’s black business district on West Ninth Street. Like many businesses, black and white, the Templars did not survive the era of the Great Depression.

Though the original Headquarters building burned in 2005, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is modeled on the original design. Exhibits highlight black business and self-achievement from Reconstruction to the 1950s in Arkansas and the nation.

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.