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10 ways to celebrate Black History Month in Little Rock

by Nyssa Kruse | February 4, 2021 at 9:42 a.m.
Asa Orneles of North Little Rock, then age 2, looks at the bust of Isaac Scott Hathaway, a Black artist and educator, in the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Museum at Little Rock in this 2008 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Black History Month is here, and there are a variety of ways in Little Rock to learn about and celebrate the past, present and future of Black Americans. Here are a few ideas.

Go on a guided tour of Central High School

To explore Black history, Little Rock residents don’t have to go far. On a guided tour of Central High School, visitors will learn about the Little Rock Nine and desegregation in local schools.

“Streetscape” tours are ongoing, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, but visitors cannot currently go into the school because of the covid-19 pandemic.

Explore the Arkansas Civil Rights History Tour

The city’s experiences with civil rights go far beyond Central High School. To explore that long history, consider exploring the Arkansas Civil Rights History Tour this month.

To accompany the tour, there is a written guide with information about the various sites, as well as an app available for both Apple and Android devices, with audio guides for each stop.

Patronize Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing

Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing is a Black-owned bookstore that has served Little Rock since 1988.

The store specializes in books written by Black authors as well as books about Black and African American culture and history, making it an ideal place to find something to read this month.

Visit Mosaic Templars or attend a virtual event

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is a museum focused on Black history and art. Throughout February, the center will offer virtual events, including conversations with Black artists and writers, a spoken word poetry reading and a Black history quiz bowl.

The museum is also open for visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Request a Mosaic Templars child education kit

A new program from Mosaic Templars called “Black History Unboxed: Have History, Will Travel” allows families to bring history home via boxes filled with activities and lessons.

The boxes have information about the contributions of Black Americans to transportation including lessons about the Tuskegee Airmen and The Negro Motorist Green Book.

Parents can send an email to scarlet.sims@arkansas.gov for more information.

Get a scoop of Loblolly ice cream that supports a cause

To celebrate Black History Month, Loblolly Creamery has introduced a flavor called Maple Leaf Ragtime. It is named after a popular ragtime piece by African American composer, Scott Joplin, who grew up in Texarkana.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of this flavor will go to Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

Attend a Central Arkansas Library System event

The Central Arkansas Library System is offering several virtual events to commemorate Black History Month. Documentary screenings and speakers will address the Black Lives Matter movement, the history of lynchings and more.

https://cals.org/black-history/

Shop at Black-owned businesses

Shopping at Black-owned businesses is another way to embrace the spirit of Black History Month.

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership put together a list of Black-owned businesses over the summer, and Shop Black Live, a web show that tells the stories of Black business owners and entrepreneurs in Arkansas, is another resource to find places to support.

Eat at a Black-owned restaurant

Just like shopping at a Black-owned store, eating at or ordering takeout from a Black-owned restaurant is another option.

The city put together a list of some Black-owned restaurants.

Watch Arkansas PBS programming

Arkansas PBS has put together a playlist of videos under the title “Celebrating Black Lives Every Day and All Year Long.”

Included are an interview with the author of “So You Want to Talk About Race”, a documentary on Little Rock’s West 9th Street, which was once a vibrant, African-American business and entertainment district, and more.

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