News story featuring UA Little Rock history professor wins Emmy

Dr. Brian Mitchell

A 2017 KARK 4 News story on the Elaine Massacre featuring expert testimony by a University of Arkansas at Little Rock history professor has won a regional Emmy award honoring outstanding journalism. 

KARK 4 News Anchor Ashley Ketz and photojournalist Marcus Eubanks won an Emmy for their story on the Elaine Massacre in the Historic/Cultural – News Story/Feature category.

The Mid-America Emmys, one of 19 regional chapters of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, held its awards ceremony Sept. 22 in Kansas City.

The story, “Elaine Massacre Gets Second Look 98 Years Later,” ran Nov. 7, 2017. It summarizes the events of the 1919 Elaine Massacre as well as efforts to investigate the disputed historical accounts of the event, the search for the grave of the four Johnston brothers who were killed in the massacre, and a movement to commemorate the Elaine Massacre.

The story features Dr. Brian Mitchell, a professor of history at UA Little Rock, as an expert source who details the history of the 1919 Elaine Massacre.

The Elaine Massacre is remembered as one of the deadliest racial conflicts in the country. In September 1919, representatives of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America met with approximately 100 African-American farmers at a church to discuss unionizing. When a group of white men interrupted the meeting, two white men were shot. The sheriff organized a posse. A mob of an estimated 500 to 1,000 white people stormed through Phillips County, killing black men, women, and children on sight.

Mitchell recently received national attention for his efforts to recognize Leroy Johnston, an African-American private in the U.S. Army who served in World War I and one of four brothers killed during the Elaine Massacre. Johnston will be posthumously honored with the Purple Heart and other World War I honors that he was denied a century ago.

With assistance from U.S. Rep. French Hill and Thomas McNabb, Hill’s director of military affairs, Mitchell gathered records that substantiated Johnston’s military service and injuries and submitted the information to the U.S. Department of the Army over the summer to request that Johnston be awarded medals for his service during World War I.

Mitchell was thrilled that the news story received an Emmy, and that the story is helping more people learn about the Elaine Massacre.

“I want to send a huge thank you to Ashley Katz and Mr. Eubanks,” Mitchell said. “We couldn’t have told the story of Elaine without you.”

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