On Tuesday, Sept. 30, the Institute on Race and Ethnicity will present “Meet the Author… Dr. Allan Ward.” The event will feature UALR East Scholar Trevor Collins as he interviews Dr. Ward, professor emeritus of Speech Communication at UALR, about his recent bookCivil Rights Brothers: The Journey of Albert Porter and Allan Ward.
Meet the Author of…
Civil Rights Brothers: The Journey of Albert Porter and Allan Ward
Tuesday, September 30
4:30 – 6 p.m.
Engel Alumni Hall, Bailey Alumni & Friends Center
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
About the Author
Dr. Allan Ward, professor emeritus of Speech Communication at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has released a book titled “Civil Rights Brothers: The Journey of Albert Porter and Allen Ward.”
In the book, Ward focuses on his relationship with longtime friend and colleague Albert Porter and the impact of their friendship during the civil rights era.
After becoming colleagues while teaching in Jackson, Tennessee, Ward and Porter traveled to states like Mississippi and Arkansas to challenge race relations and find cooperation in the divided South.
“We need the stories, or we won’t know. It opens doors to discussion on such things,” said Ward.
Teaching in the South
In 1960, Ward was finishing his doctorate in Ohio and hoping to teach speech communication in the South. He realized finding work would be difficult.
“I knew I couldn’t work at a white state college and participate in civil rights activities -I had to go into civil rights,” he said.
So, Ward began to apply to black institutions of higher education. Though many schools expressed interest, they were reluctant to hire Ward because they risked losing state funding.
Fortunately, he had friends and colleagues who started calling colleges in the South on his behalf. Due to their diligence, Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, hired Ward. It was at Lane that Ward met Porter who became the leader of the local movement.
Almost immediately after Ward began his tenure at the college, some students who were eager to start a demonstration approached him for help.
“The dean said it was okay for students to participate only if there was someone willing to be their faculty supervisor. All the instructors said no, but they asked Albert Porter and he said yes,” Ward said.
Before they began, wives of white faculty members from another school asked to help. Porter and Ward agreed to meet with the women. During the meeting, it became clear that despite their good intentions, they didn’t necessarily understand why the demonstrations were necessary. In fact, one of the wives asked, “Why are you people messing up our town?”
According to Ward, Porter graciously explained, “‘We are doing this so our children can have the same opportunities for education and jobs.’” Shocked the wife replied, “‘You people love your children too?’”
“It was then that I realized that many of them in the room had never had a real conversation with an African American before,” Ward added.
That meeting led to many more, and Porter and Ward found themselves in the trenches of the civil rights movement in the city.
“It was like magic to see what happens when we talk to each other as people and not as categories,” said Ward.
For more than 50 years, Ward and Porter worked together, fighting for racial equality and traveling all over the world.
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The Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was founded in July 2011. With a vision to make Arkansas the best state in the country for promoting and celebrating racial and ethnic diversity, the Institute conducts research, promotes scholarship and provides programs that address racial inequities. It does so by facilitating open and honest dialogue aimed at empowering communities and informing public policy to achieve more equitable outcomes.