Black History Month Spotlight – Healthcare Pioneers

UALR Trail HealthcareThe 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 Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail was launched in 2011 by the UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity.  Each year, a theme is chosen to honor a particular group of people who were active in Arkansas’s civil rights movement.  Year by year, the trail grows.  The plan is that over time the trail will stretch from the current starting point at the Old State House, down West Markham Street and President Clinton Avenue to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and then back up the other side of the street to opposite the Old State House.

Healthcare

Healthcare has long been a civil rights issue. In the age of segregation, many blacks were denied healthcare by white physicians and hospitals under Jim Crow laws. African American physicians-such as Cleon A. Flowers, Sr., and John Marshall Robinson-played important roles in serving the black community. Nurse Lena Lowe Jordan founded the Lena Jordan Hospital in Little Rock in the 1930s. Edith Mae Irby desegregated the University of Arkansas Medical School in Little Rock in 1948. Dr. Irby paved the way for other black students and professors at the school. Thomas A. Bruce promoted access to quality healthcare to the underserved. Henry W. Foster became dean of Meharry Medical College in Tennessee. Billy Ray Thomas and Phillip Leon Rayford worked to increase underrepresented groups in the medical profession. Samuel Lee Kountz pioneered organ transplants. Joycelyn Elders, a UAMS graduate and director of the Arkansas Department of Health, served as the surgeon general of the United States during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

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 – 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

Healthcare Pioneers focus of this year’s Civil Rights Heritage Trail

crht-banner-2014-thru-banner32Drs. Thomas A. Bruce, M. Joycelyn Elders, Henry Foster Jr., Edith Irby Jones, and Billy Ray Thomas, and five posthumous honorees will be recognized for their efforts to provide quality healthcare to all citizens at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, in the Little Rock River Market District at the entrance of the St. Vincent Medical Mile.

Posthumous honors will be bestowed upon Drs. Cleon A. Flowers Sr., Samuel Lee Kountz, and John Marshall Robinson; registered nurse Lena Lowe Jordan; and scientist and educator Phillip Leon Rayford, Ph.D., during the fourth annual Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail Commemoration.

Commemorative markers will be added to the Heritage Trail in honor of pioneers in health care, individuals who were either first of their race to graduate from medical school, or who have shared their professional talents generously in ways that have championed racial equity in Arkansas.

“This year, the Institute turned to healthcare because even though it is a profession by which African Americans in particular have been grossly underrepresented and underserved, Arkansas has a rich tradition of producing some of the nation’s best and brightest medical professionals,” said Dr. Michael R. Twyman, director of the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

The Institute is partnering with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Center for Diversity Affairs to honor these healthcare professionals. The center specializes in encouraging young persons of color to seek careers in health and STEM professions.

“I am honored to be recognized with such accomplished people,” said Thomas, vice chancellor for diversity affairs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “It is also a very humbling experience because many of the other honorees are also my mentors.”

Like Thomas, the other nine honorees have made significant contributions toward social and racial equity in Arkansas – most of whom received their professional education and training during the the Civil Rights Movement era, during a time of deep civil unrest in the country and state.

“It is not lost on us that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education court decision that prohibited public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race,” said Twyman.

“Access to quality education and healthcare have become the predominant civil rights issues of our time,” he added.

Learn more about each honoree at  arkansascivilrightsheritage.org supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition to the Center for Diversity Affairs at UAMS, the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District; East Harding Inc.; Arkansas Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association; Just Communities of Arkansas; the Little Rock Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; and the Little Rock Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. are sponsors for the event.

 

About the Civil Rights Heritage Trail

The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail was created in 2011 to acknowledge the sacrifices and achievements made by those who have fought for racial justice in the state. The Heritage Trail begins at the Old State House and currently stretches to the front of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. As commemorative bronze markers are added each year, it will continue toward the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and beyond.     

 

About the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity

The UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity was founded in July 2011. With a vision to make Arkansas the best state in the country for promoting and celebrating racial and ethnic diversity, the Institute conducts research, promotes scholarship and provides programs that address racial inequities. It does so by facilitating open and honest dialogue aimed at empowering communities and informing public policy to achieve more equitable outcomes.