Institute awarded humanities grant to create civil rights heritage website

The UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity has been awarded an $8,471 grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a website devoted to sharing information about the civil rights movement in Arkansas.

Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine poses with her Civil Rights Heritage Marker

Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine poses beside her Civil Rights Heritage marker in downtown Little Rock.

The website will serve as a digital accompaniment to the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail, which was unveiled during the official launch of the Institute on July 10, 2011.

“We are grateful for the generous support from the Arkansas Humanities Council to complete this important project. The Heritage Trail website will house a repository of information aimed at depicting a more accurate and complete picture of the civil rights movement in our state,” said Priscilla McChristian, interim director of the Institute.

The humanities scholar for the project, Dr. John A. Kirk, Donaghey Professor and Chair of the UALR History Department, has researched and written on civil rights in Arkansas for more than twenty years, documenting individuals and organizations who were instrumental in the struggle for equality but whose stories have been often overlooked in historical texts.

With the support of the grant UALR student interns will assist with the development of the website by expanding on Kirk’s research. Historical evidence such as photographs, video and audio recordings, articles, and other documents will be uploaded to the website. Highlights will include biographical information about Heritage Trail honorees and their specific roles in the civil rights movement in Arkansas.

In addition, educators and historians will find relevant and often obscure information about campaigns that had local and statewide significance such as the Freedom Rides, sit-ins, voter registration drives, and community organizing.

Civil Rights Heritage Marker of Little Rock Nine member Jefferson Thomas“There is so much untold civil rights history in our state,” said McChristian. “Where the Heritage Trail itself serves as a reminder about the sacrifices of individuals, the website will provide the broader historical context and an extensive resource for teachers and historians who wish to educate their students and others about the significance of local efforts.”

The Heritage Trail was established to raise awareness about the legacy of the civil rights movement in Arkansas. A series of bronze markers rest in the sidewalk along Markham Street in downtown Little Rock beginning at the Old State House, stretching to the Statehouse Convention Center, and eventually to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and beyond.

The mission of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity is to seek racial and ethnic justice in Arkansas by remembering and understanding the past, informing and engaging the present, and shaping and defining the future. It serves as a resource for producing multidisciplinary, research-driven data— including historical, sociological, educational, and economic analyses—to fulfill its mission.

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