The fourth (4th) annual Arkansas Heritage Celebration of Black History Month was presented by local author Jason Irby on Saturday, February 23, 2019.
This year’s theme was “The Integrators“. Presentations were given by students who integrated schools from around the state of Arkansas. High School integrators included:
- Leonard Burgess speaking on L.W. Sullivan High School to Morrilton High School,
- Dwight Stuart speaking on Howard County High School to Saratoga High School, and
- Jenifer Mason-Rice speaking on J.S. Walker High School to Willie K. Hocker High School.
A presentation was given by Jenifer Rice-Mason about her integration experience from J.S. Walker High School to Willie K. Hocker High School and being among the first in her community to voluntarily integrate. Each presenter received a Legend Among Us award and a Certificate of Recognition from the Arkansas Secretary of State Office.
Martha Dixon, an internationally recognized clothing designer, spoke about her youth and experiences entering into the fashion industry. Speakers were presented as a “Legend Among Us” for their pioneering experiences and participation.
Irby established the heritage event and the Legend Among Us recognition in 2016.
“I just wanted to encourage people to be aware of and celebrate the positives as well as the great contributions Black History has added to Arkansas heritage and the world. I wanted [to] recognize those who have become history makers and add their narrative to stories written and told, many of which are not well-known. Their stories are rich in substance and are worthy of documentation and celebration. Many of the oppressive stories are exposed, but now we present the accomplishments and achievements by those who live among us. They truly inspire us,” Irby said.
Previous Legend Among Us recipients include Al Bell, Geese Ausbie, Martha Dixon, Wanda Hamilton, and the late Raye Jean Montague.
2019 Legend Among Us” Recipients
This year’s Legend Among Us recipient’s included Coach Oliver Elders, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Lottie H. Shackelford, and Lawrence Gupton, Jr. Each received a Senate Citation from the Arkansas Secretary of State Office.
This heritage event included exhibit booths and presentations by the Black History Commission of Arkansas, Arkansas State Archives, Butler Center of Arkansas Studies, Arkansas State Parks, National Parks Services, Sequoyah National Research Center, and many more.
Sponsors include the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Mass Communications, Central Arkansas Library System, and the Jason Irby Innovation Foundation.
The event was held at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center located at 4800 West 10th Street in Little Rock Arkansas beginning at 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.