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While this list does not encompass every African American who has made a mark in Arkansas history, it is an excellent list of record-breaking and pioneering educators, business owners, aviators, designers, authors and athletes.
Throughout the eight-year history of OnlyInArk.com, our storytellers have dug deep to find untold stories and display them on the pages of this blog. We are continually inspired and come back often to drink deep from this wealth of wisdom.
Floyd “Jelly” Gardner – a standout athlete in the baseball Negro Leagues, always a fighter and a good story
Dr. Haki Madhubuti – activist and poet, highlights stigmatizing and oppression of black people
Korto Momlu – a fan favorite on season two of Project Runway
Josephine Pankey’s Dream – a woman before her time, Pankey purchased acres of land, drew out her plans on a napkin, and sold portions to other community blacks. She dreamed of a place where former tenant farmers and sharecroppers could have their own space and used her resources to make it happen.
Rose Marie McCoy – one of the most prolific and versatile songwriters of all time
Bass Reeves – from enslaved person to US Marshal under Judge Issac Parker throughout Indian Territory
Russell Hawkins – broadcaster and keeper of Arkansas’ oldest recording of an African American athletic event
Geese Ausbie – a well-recognized Harlem Globetrotter alumni known as the Clown Prince of Basketball
It never gets old bragging on and sharing the stories of ceiling-breaking Arkansans who changed history. So come back this month to read more untold stories of Black Arkansans making a difference today on the shoulders of those who have come before them.
What stories from our list stand out to you? Who do you never tire of hearing about their contribution to the world?
**All image copyrights are noted in original articles.
Cover photos used with permission from the Historic Washington State Park archives; special thanks to Curator Josh Williams.
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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