Black History Month: a place to start

Are you ready, black or white, to learn a little history? I’ve got some places you could start!

Central High School

Staff of FN (circa 2009) outside the Central High Visitors Center

For me, learning the history surrounding our very own area is interesting. The Central High School National Historic Site has a wonderful interactive museum in the visitor center, filled with displays to read, old radio broadcasts to listen to, even archival footage to watch. I first visited it back in 2009, and have since been back with my children, who also found it fascinating. Admission to the center is free.

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (West 9th & Broadway)

Also in Little Rock is the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum dedicated to African-American history in Arkansas. I’ve been inside the beautiful old building for a lecture once, but have never toured the museum. However, our staff is taking a field trip there in March, and we will get a tour from Rachel Acosta – she works there and is also part of our family at FN. I’m really looking forward to it. The museum is free to visit and also offers many free community programs.

Daisy Bates (center) with some of the Little Rock Nine

Maybe you are more into movies? Just a week from today, Sharon LaCruise will be at the Clinton School of Public Service talking about the making of her documentary, “Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock.” All you have to do to attend the talk (from 6-7 pm, Feb. 16) is reserve your seats by calling 501-683-5239.

Maya Angelou

Finally, for you readers: you could pick up a copy of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Much of her searing autobiography is about  growing up in Stamps, Arkansas. Or, if you’ve found yourself intrigued by the Central High crisis, try Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine.

I hope it’s obvious that I am not (and neither is FN) endorsing any specific beliefs or politics or anything like that as it relates to these resources. I’m recommending them because in addition to helping me realize things I didn’t already know, all of these resources have the added benefit of being tied to the places I live in and move through everyday. They are accessible – both in their physical nearness and in the way they help me understand why my community believes and behaves the way it does. That’s been helpful for me on my journey towards racial unity.

What about you? Do you have any suggestions for a good place to start?


Sarabeth Jones is on staff as a part of the arts team at Fellowship North, where she gets to work in many different creative areas. She is married to Bryan and has 3 kids: Elizabeth (14), Jonathan (13), and Will (10). She blogs at the dramatic, and thinks she is pretty darn funny on the Twitters.

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