For Immediate Release
Special Exhibit Honors Brinkley Academy During Black History Month
Feb. 1, 2013 (LITTLE ROCK) – Secretary of State Mark Martin announced a special exhibit at the Capitol to honor Black History Month.
The exhibit opens with a ceremony Friday, Feb. 1, at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.
In 1893, a consortium of Missionary Baptist congregations in eastern Arkansas pooled their resources to establish a residential secondary school for African-American youths. The Consolidated White River Academy or, as it was often called, the “Brinkley Academy,” provided both direction and inspiration to nearly six decades of students.
“This February, I’m pleased that the Arkansas Capitol marks Black History Month with ‘Old School,’” Martin said. “This is a fascinating photographic display recalling the Academy’s story and the culture that produced it.”
Established in an era when public secondary education was routinely denied to African American youths, the Academy did its good work while society changed incrementally. It opened its doors three years before the Supreme Court’s landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision sanctioned the doctrine of “separate but equal.” It closed a year before Linda Brown, a third-grade African-American pupil, was denied the right to enroll in the school closest to her Topeka, Kansas home, leading to the Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.
The Consolidated White River Academy was one of three African-American boarding schools located within a few miles of each other. These schools, established in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, would each close within a few months of one another in 1949-50, their mission increasingly shouldered by segregated public high schools.
“Old School” may be viewed in the Arkansas Capitol’s first-floor Rotunda through February.