Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Black History Commission of Arkansas Awards Curtis H. Sykes Grants

The Black History Commission of Arkansas recently met for its
quarterly meeting at the Arkansas Heritage building in Little Rock.

The Black History Commission of Arkansas approved several Cutis H. Sykes grant awards for projects meant to preserve or spotlight African American history in Arkansas during its regular meeting Nov. 14.

The Curtis H. Sykes Memorial Grant Program offers grants that provide support for African American historical preservation and public programming projects in Arkansas and is open to individuals and groups. The commission accepts applications year round.

Grants were approved in November to help fund the publication of books, a second edition of “Blood in Their Eyes” and “Girl Power.” The commission also agreed to partially fund research for another book, “Shades of Slade,” by La Donna Leazer. The book will be about Malvin Slade who was born to a slave mother but grew into prominence and became a key figure in the development of some Arkansas communities near the Louisiana border.

Local author and business owner Phyllis M. Hodges, who was previously awarded a grant for her book “8 Years of Unforgettable History: the Allure of America’s First,” was awarded a grant for her new book, “Girl Power.” Hodges plans to do in-person interviews and compile stories and accounts that spotlight renowned Arkansas women and girls “with emphasis to motivate minority females,” according to her application.

Another grant, awarded with some conditions, will help pay for a theater performance of “Death by Design” at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center next year. The hour-long production is about events leading up to a fire in 1959 that burned down a dormitory at the Negro Boys Industrial School  in Wrightsville, Arkansas, and killed 21 boys.

A Sykes grant will go to help publish a second edition of “Blood in Their Eyes,” which is a historical account of the massacre of African Americans in Elaine, Arkansas, in 1919. The book will be printed by The University of Arkansas Press. The Elaine Massacre is the deadliest racial confrontation in Arkansas history and among the bloodiest racial conflicts in the U.S. The Black History Commission held a symposium about the massacre this past June

Commissioners previously met in August and approved two other grants: one for the Arkansas Association of Black Psychology Professionals’ “A Centennial Commemoration” event in 2020 and another grant for “The Fire That Uncovered History & Culture of Hot Springs – African Americans Trunk and Trophies” submitted by P.H.E.O.B.E. in Hot Springs.

The Sykes grant programs has funded over a hundred projects statewide since it started in 1997. Past projects have included historical research, exhibits, workshops, publications, oral history interviews, documentary films and cemetery preservation and documentation. The maximum amount for the grant is $3,500 per project.

For more information, contact Tatyana Oyinloye, African American history program coordinator, at 501-682-6892 or at Tatyana.oyinloye@arkansas.gov. Guidelines and forms are also available online at http://archives.arkansas.gov/about-us/bhca/curtishsykesmemorialgrantprogram.aspx.
Author Phyllis Hodges (far left) listens to Chair
Carla Coleman (left) during the BHCA meeting in November.
Also pictured are commissioners Pat Finley Johnson,
Jesse Hargrove and Ricky Lattimore (far right).
The Black History Commission of Arkansas will meet next at noon Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Arkansas State Archives, at 1 Capitol Mall, suite 215, in Little Rock.