The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame was founded in 1992 by Charles O. Stewart and Patricia Y. Goodwin as a means of recognizing the best and brightest African Americans with Arkansas roots. Each year, six individuals from diverse fields of endeavor are singled out and recognized for their contribution to African American culture, to the state of Arkansas, and to the nation and world. Nominations for induction into the Hall of Fame are received from across the country. The board of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, after a comprehensive review of the submitted nominations, makes the final selection of inductees.
The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame portrait gallery is located in the rotunda of the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. In 2008, a more extensive permanent exhibit opened in two galleries of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
Inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame hail from every corner of the state and all walks of life. These include poets and novelists (such as Maya Angelou and E. Lynn Harris), religious leaders (Charles Mason Harrison and Theressa Hoover), civil rights heroes (Daisy Bates and Ernest Green), soldiers and aviators (Milton Crenshaw and Yolonda R. Summons), musicians (Robert McFerrin Sr. and Sister Rosetta Tharpe), business and publishing leaders (John H. Johnson and Martha Dixon), doctors (Joycelyn Elders and George William Stanley Ish), scientists and engineers (Ernest James Harris and Raye Montague), foreign-service personnel (Herwald Morton and June Carter-Perry), sports heroes (Sidney Moncrief and Derek Fisher), actors (Fran Bennett and Lela Rochon Fuqua), lawyers and judges (Andree Layton Roaf and Mifflin Wistar Gibbs), political leaders (Lottie Shackelford and Rodney Slater), artists (Barbara Higgins Bond and Henri Linton), educators (Floyd Brown and Emma Kelly Rhodes)—and many more.
This commemorative volume, compiled by the editors of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, collects the life stories of all those inducted during the first quarter century of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. The women and men of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame have not just shaped the state of Arkansas—they have shaped the world at large, and their influence can be traced across the globe.