What was Arkansas’s slavery during the Civil War?
The answer to this question is the subject of a new exhibition at the Templar Mosaic Cultural Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
I called “free! African Americans from Arkansas and Civil War: 1861-1866, today, the exhibition opened, and reception held.
The exhibition explores the dark perspective of the Civil War from the perspective of slavery, black soldiers, and the era of Arkansas reconstruction.
Quantia Fletcher of the Templar Mosaic Cultural Center told KUAR Public Radio that the exhibition casts doubt on the narrative of the Alliance Army as the savior of the black state population.
“African Americans are actively fighting for their freedom. I think people often think about the civil war, think about the image of the Union Army, sweep the South and rescue African Americans, so this is certainly the story of their active participation in the fight for freedom,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher said the exhibit would include a 500-pound cotton bale, which will be the main crop for 25% of the Arkansas blacks who lived and worked in the area during the Civil War.
“They will also see newspaper clippings of homeowners looking for Arkansas fugitive slaves.” We are learning the history of Arkansas, so you don’t see any announcements from Mississippi or Alabama. These were real advertisements that appeared in the newspapers in the age of slavery, “said Fletcher.
The exhibit, the museum will also showcase its collection of Arkansas art in 2014, showcasing works by nine artists that reflect the diverse experiences of blacks during the Civil War and the effects of slavery and discrimination. A black artist created each piece with links to Arkansas. The art depicts historic sites, events, and people related to the state’s black culture.
The reception opened by visiting curator Ronnie Nichols, former curator of the Old State House in Little Rock. Nichols is a descendant of black veterans of the Civil War and is a writer, artist, and genealogist.
The Arkansas National Cultural Resources Commission partially sponsors this exhibit, and some displays will run until December 31, 2015.