Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Central to Creativity – Bruce Moore

Today’s feature is not a Central alum or faculty member – but he has been an active supporter of Central High School and is looking forward to being the father of a Central High student in a few years.

Bruce T. Moore was appointed as Little Rock City Manager on December 17, 2002, after having served as Assistant City Manager since April 1999. Prior to that appointment, he served in a variety of capacities with the City of Little Rock including Assistant to the Mayor and Assistant to the City Manager.

Bruce is one of a very few people who worked on the 40th, 50th, and 60th anniversary commemorations of the 1957 integration of Little Rock Central High.  He served as Chair of the 60th anniversary activities.

As City Manager, Bruce is the principal adviser to the governing body on all operational matters pertaining to the overall direction and administration of municipal government overseeing nearly 2,500 employees and a budget of $222.6 million. In addition, he served as the lead City Staff person for the development of William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center and Park in downtown Little Rock.

Brucehas a Master of Public Administration degree from Arkansas State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Henderson State University. He is a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), Arkansas City Manager’s Association (ACMA), immediate Past President of the National Forum of Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) Board of Directors, Chair of the Henderson State University Board of Trustees, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Downtown Little Rock Partnership Executive Board. He has been the recipient of the Just Communities of Arkansas Humanitarian Award, one of Arkansas Business’ “40 Under 40” and the United States Army Commendation Medal/Operation Desert Storm.

Bruce was selected by the United States/Japan Foundation as one of twenty Americans to participate in a two-year business and cultural exchange program with Japan. He also completed the Senior Executive in State and Local Government Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and is a graduate of Leadership Greater Little Rock. Bruce is Co-Chair of the Board of City Year Little Rock, and was recognized by City Year as the 2011 Red Jacket Ball honoree.

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Little Rock Look Back: Elizabeth Eckford

After 60 years, the most dramatic images of the 1957 crisis at Little Rock Central High School remain those of 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford, being taunted as she walked through a hate-filled mob, on her way to school.  Today, Ms. Eckford recalls how difficult it was for her parents, Oscar and Birdie, to allow her to continue the struggle to integrate the Little Rock schools.

Born on October 4, 1941, she grew up in Little Rock.  Because all of the city’s high schools closed her senior year, Ms. Eckford moved to St Louis, where she obtained her GED. She attended Knox College in Illinois, and received her BA in History from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.  While in college, Ms. Eckford became one of the first African Americans to work in a local St. Louis bank, in a non-janitorial position, and later she worked as a substitute teacher, in Little Rock public schools.

Ms. Eckford, a veteran of the U.S. Army, has also worked as a substitute teacher in Little Rock public schools, test administrator, unemployment interviewer, waitress, welfare worker, and military reporter.  Along with her fellow Little Rock Nine members, she is a recipient of the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal.  Together with one of her former tormenters, Ms. Eckford also received a Humanitarian award, presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), following their meeting 34 years after an apology.  The award recognizes forgiveness and atonement.  They talked to students for two years, and, together, attended a 12-week racial healing course.

Ms. Eckford has started to walk through the painful past in sharing some of her story.  She has said that true reconciliation can occur if we honestly look back on our shared history. She believes that the lessons learned from Little Rock Central High School must continue to be shared with new generations, reminding audiences that “the dead can be buried, but not the past.”  Ms. Eckford continues her interest in education by sharing her story with school groups, and challenges students to be active participants in confronting justice, rather than being passive observers.

Ms. Eckford lives in Little Rock, and is a probation officer for the First Division Circuit Court of Pulaski County.


Creative Class 2016: Ruth Shepherd

cc16-shepherdThough Arts & Humanities Month ended yesterday, today is a bonus for the Creative Class 2016.  Ruth D. Shepherd has spent her career utilizing the arts and creativity to spread joy, messages of hope, and to change hearts and minds.

She is “retiring” later this year after having served as Director of Just Communities of Arkansas since 2000.  Though she will leave that post, her work in Little Rock and Arkansas will continue.

In her other careers, she has been a school teacher and worked in various non-profits.  She is probably most closely identified with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre having served as a volunteer, staff member, and Board member off and on for most of its 40 years of existence.  She has also served as Tabriz co-chair for the Arkansas Arts Center.

Ruth has graced several Little Rock stages including UALR (where she was in Hair), Community Theatre of Little Rock, the Weekend Theatre, and the Phoenix Theatre among others.  The Culture Vulture’s favorite performance was her riveting portrayal of a frustrated and frustrating matriarch in Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women.

While wrapping up her current role with JCA, she is busy putting the finishing touches on next Sunday’s Walk for CommUNITY.  It is not too late to sign up.  For more information on that and other JCA projects and programs, visit their website.


8 THE PLAY tonight at Argenta Community Theatre

8 The Play“8” The Play is not a prequel to the musical Nine.  It is a documentary play written by Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black which chronicles the federal Proposition 8 court case in California.

Since premiering in a one-night only all-star reading on Broadway in 2011, “8” The Play has been performed all over the country to wide acclaim.  It speaks to issues which are not just about California or about gay rights.  It discusses human rights and equality.  The play is written in the style of  verbatim theatre using transcripts from the federal trial, journalist records and media interviews from the plaintiffs, defendancts and proponents involved.

This reading of “8” The Play features community leaders, professional and local actors and is directed by Arkansas Repertory Theatre Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp.

There will be a pre-show reception at 6:30pm. The performance starts at 7pm.  Following the performance, there will be a post-show discussion led by Just Communities of Arkansas.

Tickets are $20 and are available at the Arkansas Rep box office in person, by phone (501-378-0405) or online at www.therep.org.

The performance will be at the Argenta Community Theatre on Main Street in North Little Rock.  The presenting sponsor is the Tenenbaum Foundation.  Judy Tenanbaum and Vincent Insalaco are producers of this production of “8” The Play.