Meet The Speakers

Dr. Annie McDaniel Abrams

Dr. Annie McDaniel Abrams

Civil Rights Activist, World Reknown Mentor and Community Leader

Dr. Annie Abrams is a living witness to the Civil Rights movement and a Civil Rights icon. She  is a mentor, retired educator and a political, social, civic, and community activist. She took an active role in community issues and became involved with the desegregation of Central High School in 1957.  She was also instrumental in renaming Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Little Rock and coordinating the first observance of the King Holiday in 1986 on the state capitol steps.  


Ayo and Teo Bowles

Ayo and Teo Bowles

Youth Dance and Internet Sensations

Ayo and Teo have worked with many of today’s influential artists such as Lil Yachty, Childish Gambino, Chris Brown and more.  As well as dancing, the two became fascinated by music and Ayo taught himself how to play piano, drums, and the trombone. After finishing high school, Ayo went on to attend Washtenaw Community College. The two uploaded their first YouTube video on November 6, 2014 of themselves dancing at their High School's talent show, which got more than 1 million views. American sibling duo Ayo & Teo scored a viral hit in 2017 with their single "Rolex." Born Ayleo and Mateo Bowles in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the pair grew up with the sounds of Michael Jackson, Usher, Missy Elliot, and Chris Brown. They honed their dancing skills in elementary school, later establishing a popular social media page that issued viral dance challenges. "Rolex" happened to be one of these hits, eventually racking up over 619 million views on YouTube and storming the Billboard Hot 100. Wearing their trademark bear facemasks, they issued their first single, "In Reverse," in 2016. They danced in Usher's video for "No Limit" and at the 2016 BET Awards, later signing with Columbia Records. "Lit Right Now" arrived in early 2017, but was soon eclipsed by the infectious anthem "Rolex," which echoed similar trap-influenced pop hits like Migos' "Bad and Boujee," Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles," and D.R.A.M.'s "Broccoli." In 2018, Ayo & Teo returned with the BL$$D-produced single "Hold My Sauce."


Eric Braeden

Eric Braeden

Legendary Star of Daytime's Longest Running Daytime Series, "The Young and The Restless"

"Everyone has a story"

In two decades of playing the magnetic, urbane and overwhelmingly charming Victor Newman, Eric Braeden has become daytime's most recognizable hero. The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. hosted the Emmy-Award winning actor and legendary star of daytime television’s “The Young and the Restless.” Thousands listened as Mr. Braeden tearfully shared his story as a German immigrant coming to the United States at 14.

Mr. Braeden emphasized that everyone has a story and spoke about how he admired the Civil Rights movement and Dr. King’s legacy and life.


Honorable Judge Wiley Branton

Honorable Judge Wiley Branton

Southeast Arkansas Black History Program in partnership with City of Pine Bluff

Judge Branton is the son of the late Wiley A. Branton, Sr., a distinguished Pine Bluff native, civil rights attorney and former Dean of the Howard University School of Law. Judge Branton was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1951, while his father was one of the first black students to graduate from law school at the University of Arkansas. Judge Branton was six years old when the Little Rock Central High School crisis erupted in 1957, with his father serving as the lead counsel for the black plaintiffs in the case that became known as Cooper v. Aaron.

In June 1993, Wiley A. Branton, Jr. was appointed to serve as a Pulaski County Circuit/Chancery Judge for the Sixth Judicial District. Judge Branton is one of three judges in the Sixth Judicial District who hears juvenile cases. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he received a B.A. Degree in Political Science in 1973. He he received a Juris Doctor, in 1976 from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C.

Judge Branton has served as a board Member of the Arkansas Coalition of Juvenile Justice and the Arkansas Disproportionate Minority Contract Committee. He has also served as Arkansas’ representative to the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice since 2008.



Honorable Senator Linda Chesterfield

Honorable Senator Linda Chesterfield

Senate District 30

Senator Linda Pondexter Chesterfield represents Senate District 30, which comprises part of Pulaski County. She is serving her third term in the Arkansas Senate. Senator Chesterfield
is chairman of the Senate Efficiency Committee and co-chairman of Local 911 Systems Blue Ribbon Committee. She is vice-chairman of Legislative Joint Auditing and its Executive
Committee. She is also chairman of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus for the 90th General Assembly. During the 89th General Assembly, she was chairman of Joint Energy, Local 911 Systems Blue Ribbon Committee and the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC)-Policy Making. She was vice-chairman of Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor, Legislative Joint Auditing and the Executive Committee of Legislative Joint Auditing. (SLC). During the 88th General Assembly, she served as chairman of the Senate Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs Committee and held membership on several other committees, including Joint Budget; Arkansas Legislative Council; Legislative Joint Auditing; Senate Revenue and Taxation; Senate Children and Youth; and Senate Rules, Resolutions and Memorials. Regionally and nationally, Senator Chesterfield works with legislators as a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the Council of State Governments and the Southern Legislative Conference. She serves on two SLC Committees - Human Services & Public Safety and Energy & Environment. She also serves on the Interbranch Affairs Committee of CSG and both the Redistricting & Elections and Law & Criminal Justice & Public Policy Committees of NCSL. On June 19, 2013, the Arkansas Municipal League honored Chesterfield with the Distinguished Legislator Award for her exemplary service benefiting cities and towns of Arkansas. Senator Chesterfield came to the Senate with a wealth of legislative experience. She was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2002 to serve House District 36, where she served three consecutive terms. While in the House of Representatives, she served as chair of Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs; as chair of Desegregation Litigation; and as chair of the K-12, Vocational - Technical School Institutions Subcommittee of Education. Formerly she served as the president of the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus. Civically, she has been active in many local, state and national organizations and has held various leadership positions, including past president of the Little Rock School Board and the Pulaski County Association of Classroom Teachers and past two-term president of the Arkansas Education Association. She is the only Arkansan to have been elected to the ninemember Executive Committee of the National Education Association. Professionally, Senator Chesterfield is a retired educator with over 30 years of classroom experience. She and her husband, Emry, own a consulting firm, Pondexter Chesterfield Consulting. A native of Hope, Arkansas, Senator Chesterfield was the first African-American to graduate from Hendrix College. The Chesterfields reside in Little Rock and attend First Baptist Church


Mr. Daryl Davis

Mr. Daryl Davis

"A Friend of the Ku Klux Klan"

You could say musician, author, lecturer, actor and race relations expert, Daryl Davis plays with fire, and that's more fact than fiction! As a musician, Daryl lit up the stage with  his crowd with his burnin' Boogie-Woogie piano. As a lecturer Mr. Davis  provided a thrilling, first-person account of a Black man's journey into the mindset of the Ku Klux Klan and discussed how several Klan members turned over their robes because of Mr. Davis’ influence.


Dr. Christopher  Davis

Dr. Christopher Davis

"Emerging Voice in Theology"

Reverend Davis is numbered as one of the emerging transformative voices committed to preaching a theology that informs sociology. For nearly 20 years, Dr. Davis has made it his mission to take God’s Word to a hurting and lost generation, as he follows his God-given mandate to “Build Believers to Build the Kingdom”

As senior pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church since 2000, Dr. Davis leads one of the most vibrant churches in Memphis. In the last ten years, the 135-year-old church has grown from approximately 200 members to over 1500. Due to this tremendous growth, Dr. Davis led the congregation in acquiring its current 14-acre campus.

A native of Proctor, Arkansas, Dr. Davis was called at the age of twenty-one to preach God’s Word. He was licensed in the gospel ministry in 1994, and subsequently ordained in 1996.  He graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees from both the University of Arkansas and Arkansas Baptist College. He earned the Master of Arts in Religion degree (Cum Laude) from Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. In June 2007, Rev. Davis received his Doctorate of Ministry degree with special emphasis on Preaching and Leadership from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. In 1998, he was awarded the honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree from Arkansas Baptist College.

Dr. Davis has received numerous awards and recognition. Because of pastoral achievement, preaching ability and other ministry accomplishments, he was named one of the “20 to Watch” by The African American Pulpit Journal for 2008. This list is announced every three years and clergy throughout the country are nominated. Dr. Davis has been inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers and Collegium of Scholars of Morehouse College. His sermons, Deliverance Brought by Death and Living on the Left Side of God have been published in the African American Pulpit. Dr. Davis also served as a member of the advisory board of The African American Pulpit.

Dr. Davis was a contributor to The African American Lectionary, a collaborative project with the Kelly Miller Smith Institute of the Divinity School, Vanderbilt University. This resource is an online, ecumenical preaching and worship lectionary. He was also a contributor to I’m Challenged: Daily Meditations for Christian Living,



Dr. Jocelyn  Elders

Dr. Jocelyn Elders

"Changing the face of medicine"

Dr. Joycelyn Elders is an American pediatrician and public health administrator. She was a vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the first African American appointed as Surgeon General of the United States. 


Arun Manilal Gandhi

Arun Manilal Gandhi

Grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, Champion of Nonviolence

GANDHI.  Few names in world history evoke such powerful images of integrity, courage, social harmony, and perhaps most of all - hope.  Arun Gandhi is a cultural treasure, offering

Firsthand insights into one of history’s most influential leaders.

Arun Gandhi carries within himself the same guiding principles as his grandfather, the legendary peace-maker and spiritual leader, Mohandas K. Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi.

Growing up in apartheid South Africa as a person of Indian heritage meant racial confrontations with both blacks and whites. As a young boy, Gandhi was beaten up by black youths for not being black and by white youths because he was not white. Filled with rage and plotting to avenge his beatings, he subscribed to Charles Atlas bodybuilding magazines so he would have the strength to fight back. When his parents discovered the reason for their 12-year-old

son’s sudden fascination with exercise, they decided that a visit to his grandfather in India was in order. What followed was an 18-month stay with one of the world’s great leaders that would give him the keys to the powerful philosophy of nonviolence, and help shape the foundation for his life’s work. It was a dangerous and exciting time, as Mahatma Gandhi was leading the people of India in their revolutionary, nonviolent struggle for independence from British rule.

 After leading successful projects for economic and social reform in India, Arun Gandhi came to the United States in 1987 to complete research for a comparative study on racism in America. In 1991, Gandhi and his late wife, Sunanda, founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, which is now headquartered at the University of Rochester,New York. The Institute’s mission is to foster understanding of nonviolence and how to put that philosophy to practical use through workshops, lectures, and community outreach programs.

 In 2007 Arun started the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute to build educational and training centers for children living in extreme poverty and being exploited by society. In 2013 Arun was invited to be on the Board of Legacy of Hope – Nelson Mandela's Children's Hospitals in Africa.

A speaker of international acclaim, Gandhi has spoken before hundreds of colleges and universities, and corporate and civic organizations. His unique talents and cross-cultural experiences have brought him before governmental, social, and educational audiences in countries all over the world. 


Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

Legendary R&B Singer, Former Lead Singer of the hit group, Shalamar

Raised in Akron, Ohio, Hewett moved to Los Angeles in 1976, where he met John and Alonzo Daniels, owners of an historical club in the LA Crenshaw district, called Maverick's Flat. It was at Maverick's that Hewett first met Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Watley (eventually Shalamar). Hewett and the Daniels brothers formed a show group called "Beverly Hills" and through Daniels bookings toured throughout Europe, the UK, Scandinavia and Asia for all of 1977 till the middle of 1978. After returning from overseas, Hewett started recording for Jeffrey Bowen, a Motown producer (The Temptations, Commodores, Bonnie Pointer) who was working on a solo project on guitarist Eddie Hazel (Parliament-Funkadelic). Hewett never completed the project because towards the end of 1978, he got a call from Jeffrey Daniel, who was on the road with Shalamar in the middle of a promotional tour. They had suddenly found themselves in need of a lead singer and Daniel made Hewett an offer that he accepted. Within three days Hewett flew to New Jersey, where he met up with Watley and Daniel, rehearsed the lip synch and choreography to the current Shalamar single "Take That To The Bank", and found himself in front of a TV camera on a local dance show in Paterson, New Jersey. They completed the promotional tour and returned to Los Angeles and immediately started recording the Big Fun LP with their producer, Leon Sylvers. The trio went on to record songs such as "Second Time Around", "Make That Move", "A Night to Remember", "Dancing in the Sheets" and the ballad "This Is for the Lover in You". Hewett was the group's lead singer from 1979 until 1985.

When Shalamar broke up in the mid-1980s, Hewett went on to a successful solo career. However, in 1985 before signing his solo deal with Elektra Records, he was arrested and indicted in Miami with his fiancée Mori Molina for possession with an intent to distribute cocaine.[1] Molina, who was indicted in Tampa as well as Miami, was convicted and served prison time; but after a four-day trial, in which Molina testified that Hewett had nothing to do with the crime, Hewett was acquitted of all charges.[2] In spite of his legal battles, Hewett signed his solo deal with Elektra Records and in 1986, before the Miami trial, released his first solo album, I Commit to Love (R&B number 12), a solid urban album that yielded two R&B hits, "I’m for Real" (R&B number 2) and "Stay" (R&B number 8). The album also included "Say Amen", a gospel tune that became a surprise hit on the Gospel as well as Urban charts and is one of Hewett's many signature songs. I Commit to Love was certified Platinum.

In 1990, Hewett released his Platinum self-titled album, which included the hit "Show Me" (R&B number 2), and 1992 saw the release of the LP Allegiance, which was not received as well as previous albums. He contributed to the second season theme song of Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, which was a remake of Sam & Dave's R&B Top 10 hit "Soul Man". This recording was produced by singer Steve Tyrell. After 1995’s It's Time (released by Caliber Records in the US and Expansion Records in the UK), Hewett spent much of his time providing guest vocals on albums by jazz artists such as Joe Sample, Brian Culbertson, and George Duke, among others. In 2000, The Rippingtons featured Hewett on "I Found Heaven" on their Life in the Tropics album. In 2001, Hewett recorded his first full gospel album, The Journey, followed a year later by The Journey Live: From the Heart.

In October 2006, Hewett released a new single, "Enough" (with jazz legend George Duke), which received substantial play on urban contemporary and R&B radio stations. Hewett is signed to The Groove Records, an independent label based in Los Angeles.[3] In October 2008, Hewett released his long-awaited Christmas CD, Howard Hewett Christmas, which combines his soulful R&B voice with classic Christmas songs. Working with music greats Earth, Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, and new vocal sensation Jasselle, who provides a Latin flair, Hewett proves that his music style remains classic, offering a message that reignites the spirit of Christmas. In 2009 he recorded a duet with soul singer Teena Marie, "Lover's Lane", on her album Congo Square. Hewett now enjoys recording at his leisure, touring the US and overseas,[4] and spending time with his four children and two grandchildren.


Zae Hilfiger

Zae Hilfiger

Internet Rap Sensation

Zay Hilfiger is a popular dancer who rose to fame after his video Juju On That Beat went viral. The video has more than 300 million views on YouTube.
Since his childhood, he had always wanted to establish himself as a successful dancer and his parents equally supported his decision. He began dancing at the age of six.

INTERESTING FACTS
Hilfiger runs the 'The ZayNetwork YouTube channel', where he posts his music videos and dance moves. He collaborated with Zayion McCall on "Juju On That Beat."


Kevin Hunt

Kevin Hunt

Motivational Speaker and Author of the Book "Why Me, God?"

Kevin Hunt Sr. dropped out of school in Junior High. His life went into a downward spiral for many years afterwards. Unable to support himself due to his lack of education, Kevin relied on his family for their financial support.

In 2001, he made a decision that would be the catalyst for changing his entire life, he enrolled in Shorter College GED program. After earning his GED in 2001, Kevin courageously enrolled in Philander Smith College in 2002, where he not only received a Business Degree in 2006 but also graduated with honors. He went on to receive a master’s degree in December of 2015 from Webster’s University.

Upon graduating from Philander Smith College, Kevin volunteered for then-Attorney General Mike Beebe’s campaign for governor. This eventually led to a part-time job working for Beebe’s campaign. Mike Beebe won the election for Governor (2006), and Kevin was hired on as full-time staff



Skai Jackson

Skai Jackson

Actress

Skai was born in Staten Island NY. She is an only child and resides in Harlem NY with her mom. Skai has been in the entertainment industry since she was 9 months old. She's done countless print jobs with NY's most famous modeling agencies, Wilhelmina Kids and Ford models. 30+ commercials (most known for the Band-Aid commercial), a handful of television shows (Sesame Street, Royal Pains, Rescue me, Boardwalk Empire), films ("Arthur" with Russel Brand, "Liberty Kid", "The Rebound" with Catherine Zeta Jones, "The Smurfs" with Neil Patrick Harris"). She is also the voice of Little Fish on Nick Jr's "Bubble Guppies" and Isa on "Dora the Explora".


 Former Heavyweight Champion Roy  Jones, Jr.

Former Heavyweight Champion Roy Jones, Jr.

"Knock Out Bullying"

Roy Jones Jr. has captured numerous championships in the Middleweight, Super middleweight, Light heavyweight and Heavyweight divisions. He is the only boxer in history to start his career as a junior middleweight, and go on to win a heavyweight title. Jones addressed a capacity crowd of youth, telling his story of life in Florida as a troubled youth and how he was able to overcome obstacles through nonviolence.


Elder Bernice King

Elder Bernice King

"Be A King"

Bernice Albertine King (born March 28, 1963) is an American minister and the youngest child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. She was five years old when her father was assassinated. In her adolescence, King chose to work towards becoming a minister after having a breakdown from watching a documentary about her father. King was 17 when she was invited to speak at the United Nations. Twenty years after her father was assassinated, she preached her trial sermon. Inspired by her parents' activism, she was arrested multiple times during her early adulthood.

King's primary focus as CEO of The King Center and in life is to ensure that her father's nonviolent philosophy and methodology (which The King Center calls Nonviolence 365) is integrated in various sects of society, including education, government, business, media, arts and entertainment and sports. King believes that Nonviolence 365 is the answer to society's problems and promotes it being embraced as a way of life. King is also the CEO of First Kingdom Management, a Christian consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia.



Martin Luther  King, III

Martin Luther King, III

Carrying the torch

Community activist, the eldest son and oldest living child of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King.  Martin Luther King III work is rooted in the philosophy of his parents Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. As a global human rights advocate committed to working and addressing issues that better our world.  A global humanitarian who has traveled worldwide to make a difference in the lives of all people, King has unique insight into the civil rights battles being waged every day. In this presentation, King calls attention to injustices, both in the United States and abroad, and the steps needed to make equality for all not just a dream, but a reality. 


Dr. Bernard Lafayette

Dr. Bernard Lafayette

"Keeper of the Dream"

Dr. Bernard Lafayette was with Martin Luther King in Memphis on the morning of his assassination. In King’s final words to Lafayette, he said it was crucial to “institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence.” Lafayette has spent his entire life in steadfastly carrying out King’s very last words to him. Dr. Bernard Lafayette recounted his younger years as one the legendary Freedom Riders. The Freedom Riders challenged the status quo of the Jim Crow era by riding interstate buses in the South in mixed racial groups to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation in seating. 


Ricky

Ricky "Slick Rick" Lloyd Walters

Legendary Lyricist and Rapper

Richard Martin Lloyd Walters (born January 14, 1965); better known as Slick Rick, Rick The Ruler and MC Ricky D, is a British-American rapper. He performed at the 2019 A Day of Service in 2017 at Little Rock Central High School. He has released four albums: The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (1988), The Ruler's Back (1991), Behind Bars (1994) and The Art of Storytelling (1999). His music has been sampled and interpolated over 600 times,[2] in over 35 songs by artists including Eminem, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, The Beastie Boys, TLC, Nas, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, Black Star, The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, MC Ren, Montell Jordan and Color Me Badd. In the process, Walters has become one of the most-sampled hip-hop artists ever.Many of these songs based on Slick Rick samples went on to become hit singles. He's been a VH-1 Hip Hop Honors honoree, and About.com ranked him No. 12 on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time,[4] while The Source ranked him No. 15 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time.


Tracy Martin

Tracy Martin

"From Pain to Purpose"

Vowing to keep fighting for his son Trayvon -- even after the man who killed him, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of murder -- Tracy Martin said  that his family wants to turn "negative energy" surrounding their plight "into a positive.""There's nothing that we can do to bring Trayvon Martin back," Tracy Martin said in Washington. "But if there's something that we can do ... to help other families from going through this, then we're here."


Dr. Joe Martin

Dr. Joe Martin

The Education Motivator"

Dr. Martin knows first hand that the calling to be a educator carries with it the responsibility to help students learn, lead, and achieve. Dr. Joe's message is always powerful, provocative, and practical. His unique insight into what makes great teachers & students inspires his audiences to become just that. 


IHeart Memphis

IHeart Memphis

Youth Rap Sensation

Hitting the ground like Tennessee's answer to We Are Toonz, iLoveMemphis took over social media in 2015 when his pop-rap dance number "Hit the Quan" blew up on a "Drop That Nae Nae" level, under his original name iHeart Memphis. Working with producer Buck Nasty, the rapper and dancer debuted in 2014 with the track "SnapEmUp." It all took off a year later when "Hit the Quan" hit the clubs and poked fun at Rich Homie Quan's unique dancing style. The song took off, with plenty of uploads of showing fans hitting the Quan, then "2For1," which celebrated both new sneakers and the beauty of Kylie Jenner, followed soon after. Def Jam veteran Barry Weiss' new record label, Records, and his new song publishing company, Songs, signed the MC in 2015, while a name change to iLoveMemphis became official. ~ David Jeffries


Arno  Michaelis

Arno Michaelis

"Life After Hate"

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Arno Michaelis was deeply involved with racist skinhead organizations, a reverend of a self-declared Racial Holy War, and lead singer of the hate-metal band Centurion, which sold 20,000 CDs by the mid-nineties and is still popular with racists today. Single parenthood, love for his daughter, and the forgiveness shown by people he once hated all helped to turn his life around and put him on the path to a road called “Life After Hate.”


Kel Mitchell

Kel Mitchell

Inspired Future Generations

Actor, Writer and Director Kel Mitchell was honored with a Cable Ace Award in 1997 for Best Actor in a comedy series for his work in the Nickelodeon series "Kenan and Kel" and also honored with a Kids Choice Award in 1999 for Best Actor in a comedy series for both Nickelodeon series "All That" and "Kenan and Kel". Mitchell later earned two Daytime Emmy Award nominations for his voice work as the lovable "T-Bone" in the award winning PBS series and book series "Clifford the Big Red Dog" in 2001 and again in 2002.

 


Isaac Newton Farris, Jr.

Isaac Newton Farris, Jr.

"Raised in the King Family Tradition"

In September of 2005 Isaac Newton Farris, Jr., was named president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, commonly known as The King Center. The nephew of Dr. King, Farris had spent the previous five years as chief operating officer (COO) of the center. Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King as a "living memorial dedicated to the advancement of the legacy" of Dr. King, the center came to include the Freedom Hall Complex, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. King's birth home, and Dr. and Mrs. King's crypt. As head of the center, Farris directed its activities and often acted as spokesperson for the King family.


Officer Tommy Norman

Officer Tommy Norman

Community Policing Advisor

Born to parents Modena and Dean Norman, Norman Graduated from Ole Main High School in 1990. Between 1991 and 1998, he worked many jobs in the nursing & mental health field. He worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Riley's Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home. Norman was also a mental health worker at Pinnacle Pointe Hospital.

Norman is known for building relationships within the communities he works in as it’s called positive community policing. For years Norman has amassed a positive reputation for police officers in North Little Rock, central Arkansas and beyond. Norman’s unorthodox approach to policing includes thousands of video posts, pictures and daily interactive engagement at the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Police Athletic League with those that he protects and serves. He uses social media [Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram] and a variety of ways to inspire the world, a world where too often police are seen in a negative light with brutality, abuse of force and poor relationships with citizens. He is credited for doing things like presenting 50 NLRSD students with backpacks and $50 gift cards from Shoe Carnival in August to purchase shoes, starting the “Shop with a Cop” program to help financially struggling students or just dancing with the children


Coach Nolan Richardson

Coach Nolan Richardson

"Overcoming the Odds"

Legendary basketball Coach Nolan Richardson  detailed his experiences as a black coach who had to overcome racism as a child, player, and coach to get to where he is today. Coach Nolan Richardson is an American, who was elected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014. He has coached teams to winning a Division I  Basketball National Championship, an NIT championship, and a Junior College National Championship. Richardson is the only coach to win all three championships.


Reverend Sharon Risher

Reverend Sharon Risher

Commemorative Vigil Keynote Speaker

Reverend Risher has appeared on CNN on several occasions and was interviewed by Time Magazine, Marie-Claire magazine, Guardian- BCC radio, among others. She also has visited President Barak Obama at the White House on several occasions, and she has been a guest speaker for several Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial events.
 
She is a native of Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from Charles A. Brown High School and from Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte, North Carolina. After discerning a call to vocational ordained ministry in 2002 while attending St. Paul Presbyterian Church in North Carolina she relocated to Austin, TX where she later received a Master of Divinity Degree in 2007 from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas. She has worked in full-time hospital chaplaincy since 2012. Sharon is a staff chaplain and trauma specialist, with Parkland Hospital of Dallas, TX.
 
Until shortly after her mother’s heartrending death, Rev. Risher had served Rice Chapel AME Church as associate pastor for congregational care where she preached and led the women’s ministries of the church. Tragedy catapulted her into the national limelight. Her mother, Ms. Ethel Nance took pride in the rich history of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1962, Dr. King even spoke at the church about the American dream and voting rights. Ms. Ethel Nance dedicated her life to the upkeep of the historic Church, where she was a lifelong member. On June 17, 2015, Ms. Nance along with eight others, including two cousins and a childhood friend were killed at the church during a Wednesday night Bible study session. The morning after the attack, police arrested a suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Dylan Roof, in Shelby, North Carolina.


Will Rockefeller

Will Rockefeller

"The Next Generation of Service"

Continuing in the Rockefeller legacy of service, Will Rockefeller shared the importance of family and service. As governor, his grandfather, Winthrop Rockefeller brought economic, cultural, and political change to Arkansas. “W. R.” or “Win,” as he was known, brought an end to the political organization of former Governor Orval E. Faubus. Rockefeller’s personal belief in racial equality became well known, and he ushered in an era that saw large numbers of African Americans elevated to high positions in state government. Rockefeller was a “transitional leader” in the sense that he helped discredit the “Old Guard” domination of the Faubus years and, in so doing, made Arkansans more receptive to political and social change.

 


State Representative Jamie Scott

State Representative Jamie Scott

District 37

Jamie A. Scott is the Executive Director for Pulaski County Youth Services, a small business owner, a North Little Rock native, and State Representative for Arkansas House District 37. She has dedicated her career to public service and to fighting for equal rights and fair opportunities for all. Jamie grew up in a family on the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in North Little Rock. Her uncle, Richard Lindsey, was a member of the NLR Six who attempted to integrate North Little Rock High School. Ms. Scott’s career and calling in life is constantly inspired by the stories of struggles endured by her uncle and the NLR Six in their pursuit of a quality education. In her constant quest of promoting self-empowerment, leadership, and youth development to equip the leaders of tomorrow and transform the lives of underserved youth, Jamie continually strives to uplift her community and be a voice for underserved, underrepresented, and marginalized communities.

As Pulaski County Youth Service’s Executive Director, Jamie ensures that free drug prevention, character development, and academic enrichment programs are available to children in North Little Rock, Little Rock, and surrounding communities. To support these efforts, she has successfully secured nearly $3 million in government and community grants for youth programs and juvenile transition services. Before joining Pulaski County Youth Services, Ms. Scott dedicated five years as Director of Upward Bound Programs at an HBCU through which she prepared first generation college students to achieve a strong higher education experience. 


As the youngest African American female to be elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives, Ms. Scott is one of the Rock the Culture: 2018 Women to Watch. Additionally, her commitment, dedication, and strong work ethic has afforded Jamie numerous appointments including Governor Mike Beebe’s selection to serve on Arkansas’s Legislative Task Force on Abused and Neglected Children and to participate in the Delta Regional Authority’s Executive Leadership Academy as well as being Senator Joyce Elliott’s selection for the Arkansas Legislative Vision 2025 Commission on the Future of Higher Education.
Ms. Scott is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy Harvard School of Government Executive Education Authentic Leadership Program, the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, the Little Rock Chamber’s Leadership Greater Little Rock Class XVII, the Lead Arkansas Class XIII Leadership Program, and the distinguished Presidential Leadership Scholars Program hosted by the Clinton Foundation, George W. Bush Foundation, and Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. She is a recipient of the 2018 Woman of the Year Award, 2017 Citizen of the Year Award from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the Democratic Party of Arkansas’s 2017 Emerging Leader Award, the STAND Foundation for being an Outstanding Community Leader in Arkansas, the Bishop D.L. Lindsey Spirit of Excellence Community Award, the William H. Bowen School of Law’s GLO Award, and the Women of Excellence in Education Award, in addition to many others.

Ms. Scott is a member of the Worship Center Church of God in Christ in McAlmont and was recently awarded the 20 Under 40 COGIC Achievers Award. A former board member for Volunteers in Public Schools (ViPs) and AR Kids Read, Jamie currently serves on the board of Just Communities of Arkansas, the State and Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Jamie spends her free time traveling, mentoring youth, and volunteering throughout her community. She is a graduate of North Little Rock High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Sociology and a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from Arkansas State University.



Mayor Frank  Scott, Jr.

Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.

Little Rock's First African-American Mayor Elected by Popular Vote

Most people didn’t believe a kid from Southwest Little Rock would grow up to be a banker, an associate pastor, a state Highway Commissioner, or even walk the halls of the State Capitol shaping Arkansas public policy. Many may not believe that same kid from Southwest Little Rock can become mayor of the state’s largest city, but anything is possible if we marry vision and purpose to our potential.



Phyllis Yvonne Stickney

Phyllis Yvonne Stickney

"Empowering Today's Youth"

Ms. Stickney is a world-class artist, producer, director, author, motivational speaker, clothing designer, community activist, businesswoman and surrogate mother to many. Film, theater, television, radio, and one-woman performances have made Phyllis Yvonne Stickney- actress, comedian, lecturer, writer, dancer, choreographer and Little Rock native—a standout far beyond the scope of the black community. 

 


 Former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins and Jameel McGee  The Benton Harbor Story

Former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins and Jameel McGee The Benton Harbor Story

Example of Forgiveness"

"I falsified the report," former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted.

"Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest." And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail.

"I lost everything," McGeee said. "My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him."

Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Maybe a little too small.

Last year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out.

"I said, 'Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I'm sorry,'" Collins explained.

McGee says that was all it took."That was pretty much what I needed to hear."

Today they're not only cordial, they're friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him.

"And I just started weeping because he doesn't owe me that. I don't deserve that," Collins said. But he didn't forgive just for his sake, even for Collins'. "For our sake," McGee said. "Not just us, but for our sake."





Ethel Tompkins

Ethel Tompkins

First African-American to Graduate from Hoxie School District

“The Hoxie experience prepared me for living and working in a multi-cultural environment, to be tolerant of others, and to remain strong through adversity.”  The daughter of Jesse and Mabel Tompkins, Ethel entered the Hoxie School in the 7th grade when the school integrated in 1955.  According to the Hoxie official records, Ethel is the first African American to graduate from Hoxie School District 46.  She graduated in 1961.  She joined the US Navy in 1965 serving 4 yrs.  While in the Navy, she worked in base Security and as an Admirals Aid.  She remained in Southern California for a while after being discharged from the Navy and returned to Hoxie in 1990 to care for her parents.

Ms. Tompkins holds a BA in Computer Science from Control Data Institute, Los Angeles, California. She is a retired Reference Librarian, Lawrence County Library, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.

She is a Member of Hazel Street First Baptist Church where she has served as Church Secretary/Treasurer, Sunday School Teacher, Bible Studies Teacher, President-Building Fund, and Missionary Society Teacher and Treasurer. She is a member of the Lawrence County Historical Society, Editor of the  Lawrence County Historical Journal and the African American Co-Coordinator of the Arkansas Gravestone Project.  Her positive memories of the Hoxie Integration experience include

  • Going to a new school that had all of the amenities that our school did not have, such as indoor restrooms, hot and cold running water and automated heating.
  • Having access to new and better learning materials and a wonderful library.

On King Holiday, Ms. Tompkins and the proud citizens of Hoxie, along with the Mayor Lanny Fite, the representatives from the Hoxie Public Schools accepted the 2016 Humanities Award from the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission 60 years after the integration of Hoxie.  At this time, please welcome our Keynote Speaker, Ms. Ethel Tompkins.


Marlon Wayans

Marlon Wayans

Comedian, Actor

Marlon L. Wayans (born July 23, 1972) is an American actor, model producer, comedian, writer, and director of movies, beginning with his role as a pedestrian in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka in 1988. He frequently collaborates with his brother Shawn Wayans, as he has on the WB sitcom The Wayans Bros. and in the comedic films Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, White Chicks, Little Man, and Dance Flick. However, Wayans had a dramatic role in Darren Aronofsky's critically acclaimed Requiem for a Dream, which saw his departure from the usual comedies. In 2009, he appeared in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Wayans was born in New York, New York, the son of Elvira, a homemaker and social worker, and Howell Wayans, a supermarket manager. His family was involved in the Jehovah's Witnesses religion. Marlon Wayans was raised in the housing projects of New York City, the youngest of ten siblings. He is the brother of Nadia Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Damon Wayans, Dwayne Wayans, and Kim Wayans; all celebrities in their own right. Wayans went to Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City, the school made famous in Fame. He attended Howard


Melvin Williams

Melvin Williams

Legendary Gospel Artist

Melvin Williams, world-renowned gospel producer, singer, songwriter, and lead vocalist for the legendary Williams Brothers with his distinctive gospel sound has been a leader in the Gospel Music Industry for over 55 years.  He began singing at the age of six. Melvin’s musical repertoire includes five solo albums, a massive archive of Williams Brothers albums, Seven-Grammy Award nominations and 17-Stellar Awards, Dove Awards, including International recognition from Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan(Ah-zher-bye-han), Georgia and more.

Mr. Williams was appointed U.S. Music Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State Cultural Affairs & Diplomacy performs for audiences globally with his mission to “Preserve Traditional Gospel Music”. During his EuroAsia tour, Melvin honors those great Gospel singers that have come before him like Mahalia Jackson, The Dixie Hummingbirds, James Cleveland as well as hosting workshops on The History of Gospel Music and its influence in today’s music including blues, jazz, R&B, country, etc.

 On occasion, Melvin tours with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin singing duets with Ms. Franklin on the legendary song “Precious Memories.” Most recently, Melvin performed along with Aretha Franklin and his brother at The White House’s annual “In Performance Series: The Gospel Tradition” the fourteenth program during President Barak Obama’s administration that aired on PBS and TV One. Throughout his career, Melvin shared the stage nation-wide with such other musical greats as Stevie Wonder, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle, James Taylor, Amy Grant, Paul Overstreet, Chaka Khan, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Shirley Caesar, Walter Hawkins, Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Mighty Clouds of Joys, Mississippi Mass Choir, Bishop Paul S Morton and many others. (www.melvinwilliams.net)

Melvin Williams, songwriter, producer and singer of the hit song “Cooling Water” remained on the Billboard and gospel charts for over 100 weeks and remains one of the most popular songs requested by audiences nationwide!  


Angela Winbush

Angela Winbush

Legendary R&B Soulstress

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, King Holiday Legend Angela Winbush began singing in church. During her career, she was a musical protégé under Mr. Stevie Wonder where she learned a great deal about writing and arranging songs.  She has produced R&B Hit songs for Janet Jackson and Stephanie Mills. She has also had a string of number one R&B hits including "Save Your Love (For #1)", "I'll Be Good", "Your Smile," and You Don't Have to Cry" hit number two on the Billboard Charts. "Angel"reached held the number one R&B position for two weeks in 1987. Other notable hits include the dance track, "Run to Me", "C'est Toi (Say twah)  (It's You)" and the Ron Isley duet, "Hello Beloved". The album spent twenty-eight weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart and fifty-one weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

She Produced, wrote and arranged the Isleys' Brothers Smooth Sailin' album which scored a top ten hit with the title track. "No More Tears" and "Lay Your Troubles Down" continued her top 40 success on the R&B charts

Today, Ms. Winbush’s music continues to inspire generations and influence various R&B and hip-hop acts. Her music has been sampled by The Notorious B.I.G., Foxy Brown,  Rapper Sylk-E. Fyne's, and last but not least singer Avant re-recorded the ballad, "My First Love", with singer Keke Wyatt in 2000. Ms. Winbush has a four-octave range and is a musical force to be reckoned with and also carries the distinction of being one of the few female artists to find success as a songwriter, arranger, producer and session musician playing the piano and the keyboards.