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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The annual Mount Holly Cemetery RIP picnic is tonight

Mount Holly’s Annual Spring Picnic will be held April 28, 2019!

On the last Sunday of every April the supporters and friends of Mount Holly gather in the cemetery from 5-7 p.m. for a picnic, silent auction, and entertainment. Funds raised at the picnic help maintain the cemetery as a beautiful historic landmark.

Festivities include:

  • Appetizers
  • Dinner
  • Wine
  • Turn of the century picnic “delicacies”
  • Live music
  • Performances by several Parkview students reprising their roles from Tales of the Crypt
  • Silent auction of items, experiences, elegant dinner parties, and opportunities for exclusive events at Mount Holly Cemetery.

Guests will have the opportunity to join in a tour of the cemetery.  Enjoy either a history tour featuring famous and infamous residents of Mount Holly or a naturalist’s tour of the flora of Mount Holly.

Tickets are $75.00 for adults, $25.00 for children under 18. Purchase tickets online through Eventbrite.com

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

Explore “River of Change” with Parkview High School students today at 3pm at Clinton Presidential Center

Each year, the Clinton Center celebrates Black History Month with a historically-rooted performance by the drama, choir, and orchestra students from Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School.

This afternoon (February 24), Parkview students present “River of Change,” inspired by The Mighty Mississippi, and written by Parkview student, Cooper Sikes.

The program will begin at 3pm in the Clinton Center Great Hall.

The theme of River of Change follows the focus of FUSION 2019: Arts+Humanities Arkansas by focusing on the Mississippi River.

A Celebration of Art Porter Sr. tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater

Arthur Lee (Art) Porter Sr. was a pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher. His musical interest spanned from jazz to classical and spirituals.

Tonight at the CALS Ron Robinson Theatre, Arkansas Sounds is hosting a special presentation of rare video and audio clips and photographs, as well as a panel discussion celebrating the continued legacy and eighty-fifth birthday of Arkansas pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher Art Porter Sr. This event is co-sponsored by AETN.

Admission is free, but reservations are suggested. They can be made here.

Born on February 8, 1934 in Little Rock, he began his music education at home. He played in church at age eight; played his first recital at twelve; and, by fourteen, hosted a half-hour classical music radio program on KLRA-AM. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Arkansas AM&N College (now UAPB) in May 1954.

He began his teaching career at Mississippi Valley State University in 1954.  When he was drafted into the Army, his musical talents were responsible for him being assigned as a chaplain’s assistant in New York.  In the late 1950s he returned to Little Rock and taught at Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College.

He also started playing piano jazz in the evenings. This led to the creation of the Art Porter Trio, which became THE music group for events.  Many musicians who came to Arkansas to perform in Little Rock or Hot Springs would often stop by and join in with Porter as he played.  From 1971 to 1981 he hosted The Minor Key musical showcase on AETN.  His Porterhouse Cuts program was shown in 13 states.

Often encouraged to tour, he instead chose to stay based in Arkansas.  He did, from time time, perform at jazz or music festivals.   He also performed classical piano with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, founded the Art Porter Singers, and created a music group featuring his four oldest children.  Though Porter received many honors and awards, he found particular satisfaction in the “Art Porter Bill” enacted by the state legislature, which allowed minors to perform in clubs while under adult supervision. Porter’s children thus were able to perform with him throughout the state. Governor Bill Clinton, at the time a huge fan and friend of Porter, often joined Porter’s group on his saxophone.

In January 1993, Porter and his son Art Porter, Jr., performed at festivities in Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration of his friend Bill Clinton.  In July 1993, he died of lung cancer.  Today his legacy lives on in the Art Porter Music Education Fund as well as in the lives of the many musicians and fans he touched.  He was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994.

18 Cultural Events from 2018 – First Arts Advocacy Day at the Arkansas State Capitol

On Wednesday, November 7 at the Arkansas State Capitol, Arkansans for the Arts and the new Arkansas General Assembly Legislative Arts Caucus participated in the first Arkansas Arts Advocacy Day.

That morning there were sessions on the Creative Economy 101 (Dr. Lenore Shoults of the Arts & Science Center for SE Arkansas), Arts Education Advocacy (Steve Holder, Vice President of Arkansans for the Arts), and Arts Funding Opportunities 101 (Dr. Gayle Seymour of the University of Central Arkansas).  It was followed by a Creative Economy Networking Business Exchange.

Mid-day, the Legislative Arts Caucus was introduced.  The inaugural members of the caucus come from each of the Arkansas Arts Council’s eight districts. The members are: Senators Ron Caldwell, Eddie Cheatham, Breanne Davis, Joyce Elliott, Scott Flippo, Missy Thomas Irvin, Matt Pitsch, and Larry Teague. The House members are Representatives Sarah Capp, Carol Dalby, Janna Della Rosa, Deborah Ferguson, Vivian Flowers, Michael John Gray, Monte Hodges, Reginald Murdock, and Les Warren.

In addition to the sessions, there was an Arts Talent Showcase on the front steps as well as in the rotunda.  Performers came from Alma, Ashdown, Conway, Dover, Earle, Hamburg, Hot Springs, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Morrilton, Russellville, Searcy, Van Buren, and Walnut Ridge,

First Arkansas Arts Advocacy Day

On Wednesday, November 7 at the Arkansas State Capitol, Arkansans for the Arts and the new Arkansas General Assembly Legislative Arts Caucus will be participating in the first Arkansas Arts Advocacy Day.

The day starts from 9am to 11am with sessions on Creative Economy 101 (Dr. Lenore Shoults of the Arts & Science Center for SE Arkansas), Arts Education Advocacy (Steve Holder, Vice President of Arkansans for the Arts), and Arts Funding Opportunities 101 (Dr. Gayle Seymour of the University of Central Arkansas).

From 11am to 11:30am, there will be a Creative Economy Networking Business Exchange.

From 11:30am to 12:00pm, the Legislative Arts Caucus will be introduced.  The inaugural members of the caucus come from each of the Arkansas Arts Council’s eight districts. The members are: Senators Ron Caldwell, Eddie Cheatham, Breanne Davis, Joyce Elliott, Scott Flippo, Missy Thomas Irvin, Matt Pitsch, and Larry Teague. The House members are Representatives Sarah Capp, Carol Dalby, Janna Della Rosa, Deborah Ferguson, Vivian Flowers, Michael John Gray, Monte Hodges, Reginald Murdock, and Les Warren.

In addition to the sessions, there will be an Arts Talent Showcase.  On the front steps of the Capitol building the following groups will perform:

  • Conway Junior High Choir – 9am
  • Dover High School Jazz Ensemble – 9:30am
  • Earle High School Band – 10:00am
  • Alma Intermediate School Choir I – 10:30am
  • Alma Intermediate School Choir II – 11:00am
  • (Break for Legislative Caucus introduction at 11:30am)
  • Conway High School Chamber Orchestra – 12:00pm
  • Hot Springs High School Dance Troupe – 12:30pm
  • LRSD Washington Elementary Dynamic Drummers – 1:00pm

In the rotunda of the Capitol building the following groups will perform:

  • Jacksonville Lester Elementary Choir – 9am
  • Searcy Community Youth Choir – 9:15am
  • LRSD Parkview Dance Troupe – 9:30am
  • (Break at 9:45am)
  • Dover Schools Musical Theatre – 10:00am
  • Walnut Ridge High School Choir – 10:15am
  • Ashdown High School Drama Department – 10:30am
  • Hamburg Middle School – 10:45am
  • Lakeside Middle School Girls Choir – 11:00am
  • (Break for Legislative Caucus introduction at 11:30am)
  • Russellfille High School Thespians – 12:00pm
  • Van Buren High School – 12:15pm
  • (Break at 12:30pm)
  • Hot Springs High School Choir – 12:45pm
  • Morrilton High School Show Choir – 1:00pm