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Statewide Culture 2

7 Remarkable Arkansas Black History Stories


As February begins, we are mindful of the many things this month represents – American Heart Month, Lunar New Year,  Library Month, Bird Feeding Month, Great American Pie Month and Black History Month. Over the years, we have taken a strong stance on telling stories of Black Arkansans and their indelible mark on our state’s history.

Let’s revisit some of these Arkansas Black History moments and honorable individuals. Remember that the celebration and remembrance of this occasion hold personal responsibility for the intention to keep the notion going for another generation.

Photo used with permission from Arkansas Baptist College archives.

1. 16 Black History Sites in Arkansas

This list of historical sites marks places of importance to education on a national platform, churches used as headquarters for political movements, hidden spaces in the capital city for social gatherings and “musical halls” for exclusive concerts by some of the world’s most outstanding performers.

2. Arkansas Firsts

Two rounds of articles about Arkansas first grabbed the attention of our subscribers. In 2017, the first directory told the stories of 10 individuals with Arkansas roots who went on to “firsts” in each field. In 2021 the list expanded to include 10 more individuals breaking new ground from the 1870s to 2018. Those highlighted include educators, judges, athletes and musicians.

3. Black Business Leaders Making a Difference

Written by Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., this article shares the impact of four business leaders who happen to be African American. Their impact spans from the publisher of Ebony Magazine, Civil Rights Movement leaders, the CEO of Sam’s Club, an innovative leader in technology, and a real estate success story with some of the top brands in the world. To read their stories of success is inspirational, no matter the color of your skin.

4. The Freedman’s Savings & Trust Company

Frederick Douglass is a name often discussed and researched in association with Black History Month. A well-deserved honor for his skills as an orator and abolitionist, but Douglass was also a banker. In 1865, following emancipation, the U.S. government established the Freedman’s Savings & Trust Company to incorporate African Americans into the U.S. economy. This article shares the history of the company and its presence in Little Rock.

Photo used with permission form Arkansas Parks, Tourism and Heritage.

5. The Little Rock Nine: 60th Anniversary of Little Rock’s Desegregation

No story ties Arkansas more to Black History Month than the Little Rock Nine and Desegregation Crisis. 2017 was a year of healing and remembering for the members of this original group and the town they called home. New residents of Arkansas are shocked by the events and curious about what’s changed. The Little Rock Central National Historic Site is a great starting point to unfold the story and tour the historic Dunbar community, filled with historical markers.

6. Arkansas Black Hall of Fame

Founded in 1992, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame seeks to capture and tell the story of African American Arkansans who stood up, stepped out, and ran on when everything around them stood in their way. Annually, a handful of members are added to the honoree list in one of Little Rock’s premier events.

7. Remembering the Heroes of Black Baseball

Some of baseball’s greatest athletes went through a much harder entry path. 2022 marked the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robin’s entry into MLB, but breaking that stronghold came too late for many outstanding players. Jim Yeager brings life to their story. A stop on the Hot Springs Baseball Hall of Fame tour gives perspective to their athleticism and tenacity.

Other articles of interest for Black History Month

Do other stories about African Americans stand out from Arkansas’s history? Leave us a comment below and give us more ideas to explore.

Unless otherwise noted, image copyrights are mentioned in originally posted articles.

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in South Arkansas with her husband and sweet Boxer, Bailey and one-year-old son! Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now she is using all of those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom!

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2 responses to “7 Remarkable Arkansas Black History Stories”

  1. Donell Hill says:

    Two Brothers From the same household who played in the NFL and the NBA from the small town of Cherry Valley, AR in The late 80’s and early nineties (Wayne and Jeff Martin – New Orleans Saints and the LA Clippers)

  2. Donell Hill says:

    These two Young men Are Brothers That was raised by Godly Parents in the small town of Cherry vallley ar Highly respect by everyone in their community,school, and Colleges

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