The Old State House Museum in Little Rock will host several programs and exhibits surrounding February’s Black History Month.
A new exhibit — Arkansas African American Legislators, 1868-1893 — will be on display through Sunday, Jan. 26. The traveling exhibit, produced by the Arkansas State Archives and Black History Commission of Arkansas, tells the story of the 85 African American legislators who served in the Arkansas General Assembly in the 19th century. Many of them served in the period of Reconstruction and included African American lawyers, merchants, ministers, educators, farmers and other professionals.
A lecture on Thursday, Jan. 23 at noon by Brian Rodgers shares the story of Wiley Jones, an African American entrepreneur in post-Reconstruction Arkansas. Jones rose from unknown barber to a nationally-known businessman.
Another lecture on Thursday, Feb. 20 at noon focuses Herbert Denton, Sr. and Jr. Benji de la Piedra, a Washington, D.C-based biographer of the Dentons, will lead the lecture. The Denton, Jr. of Little Rock, was an American journalist at the Washington Post from 1966 until his death in 1989. He mentored a generation of influential black journalists and revolutionized coverage of local life in the nation’s capital at a time when the city was more than 70% African American.
Denton, Sr. was a lifelong public educator in Little Rock and a pillar of the city’s black community, who has largely gone unacknowledged in the written record of Little Rock history.
On Friday, Feb. 14 from 5-8 p.m., there will be a screening of Arkansas musician Louis Jordan’s 1947 film, “Look Out, Sister!”
Stephen Koch, an award-winning broadcast and print journalist and a musician, is the author of Louis Jordan: Son of Arkansas, Father of R&B. He also hosts “Arkansongs,” broadcast weekly for more than 20 years on public radio stations all across Arkansas, in Louisiana and in east Texas.
Koch will discuss the history, context and significance of the film, which has an all-black cast, and will moderate an audience question and answer session.