Little Rock Look Back: How LR reacted to Assassination of Dr. King

On April 4, 1968,  when Dr. King was assassinated, Little Rock did not see the unrest that many cities did.  Part of that was probably due to quick action by Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.

The Governor released a statement fairly quickly expressing his sorrow at the tragedy and calling for a day of mourning. He also made the State Capitol available for the NAACP to have a public memorial, as well as worked with a group of ministers to host an interdenominational service.

Little Rock Mayor Martin Borchert issued a statement as well:

We in Little Rock are disturbed about the incident in Memphis. We are disturbed regardless of where it had happened.  Killing is not the Christian solution to any of our problems today.

In Little Rock, we feel we have come a long way in 10 years toward solving some of our problems of living and working together regardless of race, creed or color.

The city Board of Directors in Little Rock has pledged itself toward continuing efforts to make Little Rock a better place in which to live and work for all our citizens.

We feel the efforts of all thus far have proved we can live in harmony in Little Rock and are confident such an incident as has happened will not occur in Little Rock.  We will continue our most earnest efforts toward the full needs of our citizens.

The day after Dr. King was assassinated, a group of Philander Smith College students undertook a spontaneous walk to the nearby State Capitol, sang “We Shall Overcome” and then walked back to the campus.  President Ernest T. Dixon, Jr., of the college then hosted a 90 minute prayer service in the Wesley Chapel on the campus.

On the Sunday following Dr. King’s assassination, some churches featured messages about Dr. King.  As it was part of Holy Week, the Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of Little Rock had instructed all priests to include messages about Dr. King in their homilies. Some protestant ministers did as well. The Arkansas Gazette noted that Dr. Dale Cowling of Second Baptist Church downtown (who had received many threats because of his pro-integration stance in 1957) had preached about Dr. King and his legacy that morning.

Later that day, Governor Rockefeller participated in a public memorial service on the front steps of the State Capitol. The crowd, which started at 1,000 and grew to 3,000 before it was over, was racially mixed. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Governor and Mrs. Rockefeller joined hands with African American ministers and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

That evening, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was the site of an interdenominational service which featured Methodist Bishop Rev. Paul V. Galloway, Catholic Bishop Most Rev. Albert L. Fletcher, Episcopal Bishop Rt. Rev. Robert R. Brown, Rabbi E. E. Palnick of Temple B’Nai Israel, Gov. Rockefeller, Philander Smith President Dixon, and Rufus King Young of Bethel AME Church.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Borchert stated:

We are gathered this afternoon to memorialize and pay tribute to a great American….To achieve equality of opportunity for all will require men of compassion and understanding on the one hand and men of reason and desire on the other.

Women Making History: Rev. Dr. Peggy S. Bosmyer

In 1977, Peggy S. Bosmyer was ordained an Episcopal priest at Little Rock’s Trinity Cathedral.  Not only was she the first woman in Arkansas to be ordained to a full priesthood in the Episcopal Church, she was the first woman south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Born in Helena, she was a graduate of the University of Arkansas and Virginia Theological Seminary.  She served as a deacon at Grace Episcopal in Pine Bluff before serving as a curate at Little Rock’s St. Mark’s Episcopal.  In 1976, the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood. It was after that she was able to be ordained in 1977.  Her ordination was front page news in the Arkansas Gazette.

Following ordination, she was appointed Vicar of Little Rock’s St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, then a part-time position. She also served as a program director for the Diocese of Arkansas, which included oversight of Camp Mitchell.  In 1985, Rev. Bosmyer was appointed full-time Vicar of St. Michael’s.  Nine years later, she left Little Rock to be a professor on the faculty of the School of Theology at the University of the South.  While there she served as Co-Vicar of St. James at Sewanee. She also received her Doctor of Divinity from the University of the South in 1999.

Rev. Dr. Bosmyer returned to Little Rock in 2001 to be Vicar of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church.  She held that position until her death in December 2008 from pancreatic cancer.  She is interred at the columbarium of St. Margaret’s.  She was survived by her husband of 24 years, Reverend Dr. Dennis Campbell, and four children.

She was not only one of the first female Episcopal priests in the U.S, she was on the forefront of women serving as ordained priests and preachers in mainline denominations.  Certainly her ordination was not without controversy. There are still those who disagree with women serving as priests (though likely few remain within the Episcopal church).

The legacy of Rev. Dr. Bosmyer continues today with the women serving as rectors, vicars, priests in charge, and associate rectors throughout the state of Arkansas.  While Arkansas has not had a woman serve as Bishop, Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori served as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 2006 to 2015.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra launches 2019 Intimate Neighborhood Concerts tonight

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, opens the 2019-2020 Intimate Neighborhood Concerts (INC) series with Songs from the Heart, Thursday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral (310 W 17th St, Little Rock).

Michael Underwood (ASO principal trombone) and Susan Bell León (ASO principal bassoon) perform music from Albrechtsberger and Lars-Erik Larsson, respectively. The program concludes with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

ASO, I.N.C.: Intimate Neighborhood Concerts are presented in acoustically unique venues around Little Rock. The programs feature works suited to the acoustic and aesthetic space of each venue, giving patrons the opportunity to hear these works as the composers imagined them.

General Admission tickets are $29; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at; at the venue beginning 60 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 1.

LARSSON, Lars-Erik — Concertino for Bassoon and String Orchestra, Op. 45, No. 4
Susan Bell León, bassoon

ALBRECHTSBERGER — Trombone Concerto in B-flat Major
Michael Underwood, trombone

TCHAIKOVSKY — Serenade for Strings, Op. 48

About Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 53rd full season in 2018-2019, under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. ASO is the resident orchestra of Robinson Center Music Hall, to which the ASO returned in November of 2016 after a two-year renovation of the historic structure. ASO performs more than sixty concerts each year for more than 165,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series, River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, Intimate Neighborhood Concerts, and numerous concerts performed around the state of Arkansas, in addition to serving central Arkansas through community outreach programs and bringing live symphonic music education to over 26,000 school children and over 200 schools. ASO is a member of the League of American Orchestras.

William Trafka presents organ concert tonight

The Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists presents William K. Trafka in concert tonight.  The program starts at 8pm at Trinity Episcopal, 310 West 17th Street.

From 1995-2018, William K. Trafka was the Director of Music and Organist at St. Bartholomew’s Church, having served as Associate Organist beginning in 1985. At St. Bartholomew’s, he directed music for three diverse services each Sunday and oversaw a choral program which included a professional choir, a volunteer choir and an extensive program for boy and girl choristers. He has directed St. Bartholomew’s Summer Festival of Sacred Music.

He was the Artistic Director of the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation, a corporation presenting Great Music at St. Bart’s, a concert series, which included performances by St. Bartholomew’s Choir and Boy and Girl Choristers as well as a host of guest artists and ensembles, which included Jessye Norman, Sylvia McNair, Betty Buckley and the Empire Brass. At St. Bartholomew’s, he conducted the premieres of works by such notable composers as James MacMillan, David Conte and Ēriks Ešenvalds.

He is a magna cum lauda graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he was a student of David Craighead and was awarded the Performer’s Certificate in organ performance. As a recitalist, he has performed on concert series throughout the US, Europe and Central America. Recently, he served as Adjunct Professor of Sacred Music at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. As a composer, he has had works performed by St. Bartholomew’s Choir, The Washington Bach Consort, The National Cathedral Choral Society and Cerddorian.

His recording credits include several collaborations with the American Boychoir on the Angel and MusicMasters labels and with the Brass of the English Chamber Orchestra on the RCA label. Additionally, he has conducted St. Bartholomew’s Choir on three recordings on the Ethereal label. He also can be heard playing works of Leo Sowerby at St. Bartholomew’s on a 4-CD set entitled Great Organs of New York on the B&V label. His CD, entitled The Symphonic Organ, which includes his transcription of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, was released on the Pro Organo label and has been critically acclaimed by such publications as the American Record GuideThe Diapason and The Living Church.

He presently serves as the Director of Music and Organist for Christ Church in Ridgewood, NJ, where he was appointed in November of 2018.

ELIJAH by Mendelssohn this evening at Trinity Cathedral

Manuscript of Mendelssohn's Oratorio 'Elijah'.jpgThe Trinity Episcopal Cathedral choir presents excerpts from Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH today at 5pm.

Accompanied on the newly restored organ by New York City Organist Daniel Beckwith, the oratorio will be included in a service of Evensong. British bass Peter Hine will sing the title role. Victoria Mathis Harden, Music Director, will conduct. A gala reception will follow in Morrison Hall. A nursery will be available.

Premiering in 1846 at the Birmingham Festival, it depicts events in the life of the Biblical prophet Elijah.  This piece was composed in the spirit of Mendelssohn’s Baroque predecessors Bach and Handel, whose music he loved.

Chamber Music Concert tonight – Mozart and a Premiere

Image result for mozart clarinet concertoTonight (January 14) at 7pm at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Drew Irvin, Stephen Feldman, and friends will perform the Mozart Clarinet Quintet.

Also on the program is the premier of the work “The Fence, The Rooftop And The Distant Sea”, by Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh for string quartet and clarinet.

Tickets are available at the door for a suggested donation of $15. Students are admitted for free with I.D.