SEARCY, Ark., – The Harding University Brackett Library will be hosting Arkansas African American Legislators, 1868-1893, a free traveling exhibit produced by the Arkansas State Archives and Black History Commission of Arkansas, Jan. 31-Feb. 26. The exhibit is free and open to the public and will be on display weekdays 7:45 a.m. – 11 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday 1 – 11 p.m.
Arkansas African American Legislators, 1868-1893 tells the story of the 85 African Americans who served in the Arkansas General Assembly during the 19th century. After the Civil War, Arkansas adopted a new constitution in 1868 and its provisions for black males included the right to vote and hold public office. African American lawyers, merchants, ministers, educators, farmers and other professionals served in the Arkansas General Assembly. Photographs of 46 of the 85 legislators are an integral part of the display. Also featured is a complete listing of the legislators and a short history of post-Civil War and election law “reforms” that effectively ended African Americans election to legislative positions until the 1970s.
The mission of the Black History Commission of Arkansas is to collect black historical materials for the Arkansas State Archives; to encourage research in Arkansas black history; and to cooperate with the Arkansas Department of Education in the development of African American historical materials for use in public schools. The BHCA produces exhibits, hosts seminars, offers free educational material on African American history, and administers the Curtis H. Sykes Memorial Grant Program to fund projects related to African American history in Arkansas.