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The Legacy of Race and the Question of Reconciliation in Arkansas

CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas Presents

The worldwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality that followed the murder of George Floyd earlier this year drew attention to the deep history of race and violence in the United States and beyond. At the same time, these demonstrations raised the questions:

  • Where do we go from here?
  • How do we achieve a future in which reconciliation and restoration finally become a reality for all people?

CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas has invited a panel of experts to offer their own insights:
Brian Mitchell, assistant professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and co-author of the revised edition of Blood in Their Eyes: The Elaine Massacre of 1919
J. Chester Johnson, poet, essayist, and translator, and author of Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and a Story of Reconciliation
Barclay Key, associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and author of Race and Restoration: Churches of Christ and the Black Freedom Struggle

In this hour-long panel discussion, these presenters will discuss their recent books and engage in dialogue with the public and with each other on the steps that are necessary to fulfill the promise of equality here in the state of Arkansas and beyond.

Each lecture will be a Zoom webinar and will be streamed to YouTube Live, and then archived on YouTube for later viewing. Attendees must register to participate in Zoom webinar and ask questions of the speaker. 

Register for Webinar


About the Panelists

Brian K. Mitchell is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and earned a PhD in urban studies from the University of New Orleans. He worked for several years as an investigator for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before joining the Department of History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock full time in 2015. Aside from the Elaine Massacre, he has researched the 1859 expulsion of free blacks from Arkansas and the consequences of urban renewal in Little Rock. He is also author of the forthcoming book The Life of Oscar J. Dunn and was named a Visionary Arkansan by the Arkansas Times in 2018. 

Chester Johnson spent his youth in southeastern Arkansas and was educated at Harvard College and the University of Arkansas. The author of several poetry collections, he served, with renowned poet W. H. Auden, on the drafting committee for the retranslation of the Psalms, which is the version contained in the current edition of The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. Johnson’s experience, covering eight years on this retranslation project, is contained in his book Auden, The Psalms, and Me, published in 2017. For over three decades, in addition to his writing, Johnson owned and ran a financial advisory firm that concentrated on debt management for states, large local governments, and public authorities; he also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department under Jimmy Carter. Johnson lives in New York City. 

Barclay T. Key grew up in Moulton, Alabama, and earned a degree in history from the University of North Alabama. While working as a high school history teacher, he finished an M.Div. at David Lipscomb University and later earned an MA and PhD in history from the University of Florida. He joined the Department of History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2012 and, aside from his book Race and Restoration, has published chapters in the anthologies Painting Dixie Red: When, Where, Why, and How the South Became Republican (2011) and Destination Dixie: Tourism and Southern History (2012).