Little Rock Main Library

Little Rock Main Library

Thursday I had a quiet morning to myself (or so I thought).  I walked over to Little Rock’s main library to catch up on work while playing phone tag with John Jasik who was trying to make my travel arrangements to the Ukraine.  I was finally able to talk with him and get my itinerary worked out.  I was looking forward to the trip to the Ukraine.   After working for a little while in the library, I walked over to Ashley’s at noon to have lunch with Julia Busfield, one of our alumna.  She is a partner in the firm Busfield & Duggar.  I’d never met her and Dean Miller suggested that I look her up while I was in town.  She and I had a very lively lunch discussion.  It was great to meet her and I’m hoping that she’ll come up and visit the Law School sometime.  Thanks very much Julia for making time in your busy schedule to visit with me.   

After lunch there I was able to get back to work for a while and to get ready for the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus Annual King/Kennedy Dinner which was held at the Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock.  Rep. Linda Chesterfield (who happens to be a Soror) is the organizer of the King/Kennedy Dinner.  The dinner is named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy whose lives paralleled each other and who gave their lives in the pursuit of those ideals which epitomize the Democratic Party.  This year’s event also celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the NAACP, and the decisive role that NAACP has played in the lives of Arkansans and the American people.  I was very honored by the fact that the W. Harold Flowers Law Society nominated me for the Thomas E. “Pat” Patterson Education Award and I was selected to receive that award.  I was very much looking forward to the evening’s events and very grateful to my colleagues in the Flowers Society for thinking of me (and a special nod to Hester Criswell, President of the Flowers Law Society this year).  

Chris Mercer and myself

Chris Mercer and myself

I arrived a little bit after 6:00 p.m. at the reception and to my delight one of the first people I saw there was Chris Mercer who as many of you know is one of our Six Pioneers.  Andy Albertson, our Communications Director, joined me for the dinner.  Let me say to the foodies out there, it was one of the best banquet meals I have ever had.  It was turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, greens, cornbread, and macaroni and cheese.  It was fairly carb heavy, but really delicious comfort food.  It wasn’t your typical banquet fare, but we were grateful for the change.   

The King/Kennedy Dinner Program

Opening and Introductions – Linda Chesterfield, President

Prayer – Brack Pondexter

Introduction of Constitutional Officers – Chairman Todd Turner

      Governor Mike Beebe

      Lt. Governor Bill Halter

      Secretary of State Charlie Daniels

      Attorney General Dustin McDaniel

      Treasurer Martha Shoffner

      Land Commissioner Mark Wilcox

Musical Interlude – Brack and Gwen


Presentation of Awards

      The Irma Hunter Brown Women’s Leadership Award

            Honoree: Ms. Onie Norman

            Presenter: Ms. Irma Hunter Brown

      The T.E. Patterson Education Award

            Honoree: Ms. Marietha Neal

            Presenter: Ms. Valecia Pumphrey

            Honoree: Dean Cynthia Nance

            Presenter: Ms. Hester Criswell, Esq.

      The Annie Abrams Community Service Award

            Honoree: Mr. Joe Booker

            Presenter: Ms. Annie Abrams

      The Jerry Jewel Government Leadership Award

            Honoree: Ms. Lottie Shackelford

            Presenter: Rep. Wilhelmina Lewellen

            Honoree: Mayor Carl Redus

            Presenter: Rep. James Word

      The Calvin King Economic Development Award

            Honoree: Dexter Doyne

            Presenter: Senator Tracy Steele

President’s Awards

      Congressman Mike Ross

      Ms. Lorene Joshua

      Rev. Hezekiah Stewart

      Ms. Evangeline Parker

      Ms. Ernestine Pondexter

Closing Remarks – President Linda Chesterfield

Benediction – Rev. H.D. Clay 

Governor Beebe

Governor Beebe

Governor Mike Beebe was the first speaker, followed by Lt. Governor Bill Halter, Secretary of State Charlie Daniels, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, Treasurer Martha Shoffner and Land Commissioner Mark Wilcox.  There were a number of people attending the dinner who I’ve come to know over the years.  I also had the honor to meet Lottie Shackelford, the first black woman to be the Mayor of Little Rock as well as the Mayor of Pine Bluff, Carl Redus, and several other dignitaries.  I definitely felt like I was in high cotton that evening and was very honored to be part of such an august group of honorees.   

I should tell you a little bit about the Thomas Patterson Education Award.  Mr. Patterson was a former teacher and administrator in the Arkansas public schools.  He was the Executive Secretary of the Arkansas Teachers Association, which was the voice for African-American educators in this state.  When the National Education Association encouraged its southern states to merge their racially separate education associations, Mr. Patterson led the merger negotiations with the Arkansas Education Association.  In those negotiations, he fought to make sure that African-Americans would serve in leadership positions and that there would be a commitment to human and civil rights.  Mr. Patterson was one of the first African-Americans to serve on the Little Rock School Board.  He was a founding member of the Leadership Roundtable, and an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.  The education award is presented to an individual who fights for equality of educational opportunity for students, and the education employees of color and those who are poor.   

All in all it was a wonderful evening which ended with the highlight of taking a picture with my colleagues in the W. Harold Flowers Society, to whom I again say many thanks for nominating me for such an important recognition.