It’s a party! Celebrating Sue Cowan Williams Library

On Tuesday, June 14, the Sue Cowan Williams Library held a block party celebration! This hour and a half long celebration brought in more than one hundred individuals of all ages from within the Dunbar community and even farther away. The celebration was two-fold, a late birthday party for the branch’s namesake and to celebrate 25 years of library service to the community, as this building was opened in March of 1997 and became the 10th CALS location.

Sue Cowan Williams took a courageous stand on behalf of equal rights when in 1942, she became the plaintiff in a lawsuit to challenge the unequal salaries paid to African American teachers in the Little Rock School District.

“There is a lot of history in this area; Dunbar is the hub. This is the place to go.” Sheila Singleton said after telling us that she found out about the event via Facebook.

There was an assortment of food and drinks available, including catering from Haygood BBQ, hotdogs from Scoop Dog, a choice of funnel cakes or Italian ice from Kingdom Made Treats had, and there was cake! A table was set up with Summer Reading Club signups where kids and adults were able to join this fun program and take home a few extra treats; twenty-six people signed up.

For some, it was an opportunity to enjoy the library in a fun (and much noisier) way than usual. But for others, it was an opportunity to remember someone who was important to them. Myrtle Ragland Smith reflected about her high school years and how Williams was a role model to many teenage girls. “I had Mrs. Williams as a teacher from 1960 to 1963 at Horace Mann High School. She was an amazing lady. She was a lady that the girls could talk to, if they didn’t have a mom, she would fill that role,” Ragland Smith said.

CALS had activities planned inside and outside the branch. The courtyard was buzzing with activity, as kids played a variety of games, danced to the music from DJ Swift 720 and enjoyed the late afternoon sun. Several participants completed the trivia challenge and left with commemorative tT-shirts. Overall, it was a successful event where everyone left happy, with full bellies and hopefully a greater understanding of an iconic woman who played a pivotal role in Little Rock history.

Read more information about Sue Cowan Willliams and her fight for equality at the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas.