The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame was founded in 1992 by Charles O. Stewart and Patricia Y. Goodwin as a means of recognizing the best and brightest African Americans with Arkansas roots. The first induction ceremony was held on October 30, 1993, in the exhibition hall of Robinson Auditorium. Each year, six inductees from diverse fields of endeavor are recognized for their contribution to African-American culture and to the nation. In 1998, seven inductees were selected.
Nominations are received from across the country offering recommendation for induction into the hall. The board of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, after a comprehensive review of the submitted nominations, makes the final selection of inductees. Past honorees have included writers, singers, actors, visual artists, musicians, athletes, politicians, religious leaders, doctors, lawyers, educators, scientists, and civic and social leaders who have attained national or international acclaim. Selections are revealed to the public during the first week of September prior to the induction ceremony, usually held the third Saturday of October. In 2017, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame inducted no new individuals but, instead, honored all previous inductees at a twenty-fifth anniversary gala.
The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame portrait gallery is located in the rotunda of the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock (Pulaski County). On September 20, 2008, a more extensive permanent exhibit opened in two galleries of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. The Black Hall of Fame Exhibit has a “living component,” and each year a Hall of Fame laureate will return to perform a concert and or give a lecture as a part of the museum’s public programs.
The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame induction ceremony helps to fund the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides grants to organizations working to improve education, youth development, health/wellness, and economic development in black and other under-served communities throughout Arkansas. These grants have affected more than forty-five of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties since 2003. The grants program is a fund of the Arkansas Community Foundation.
For additional information:
Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. http://www.arblackhalloffame.org (accessed June 14, 2017).
“Arkansas Black Hall of Fame to Induct 6.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. September 9, 2009, p. 2B.
Williams, Helaine R. “Social Eyes—Their Place in History: Governor, Guests Applaud Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Inductees.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. October 25, 2009, p. 2D.
Arkansas Black Hall of Fame