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Melba Lene Smith
1/15/1945 - 3/20/2014

Activities Gallery

Rita's father, Mr. Henry Childress accepted the Proclamation by the Mayor of the City of Fayetteville, AR designating February, 2015 as Black History Month. Mr. Childress has resided in Fayetteville since 1944 and in his comments remembered being in a singing group and traveling all around to sing in the early days. He recalled going even to Harrison, Arkansas but not venturing to Springdale or to Rogers.

In the News

Northwest Arkansas African American Heritage Association was deeded East Mountain Cemetery on Rock Street just east of Willow Street in the heart of the historically African American neighborhood in Fayetteville, AR

Building Community Through History

Northwest Arkansas African American Heritage Association is dedicated to preserving and documenting the heritage of African Americans in Northwest Arkansas. Our research and outreach take us to Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties where we partner with the Arkansas Archeological Survey, other educational organizations, concerned individuals and groups to learn about and document the life experience in these communities.

As communities change and as some disappear, historical information may be obtained through research and documentation of gravesites, homestead remains and housing areas. Where the living history of African Americans has been virtually erased, oral histories may be obtained from life-long residents as well as from displaced African American descendants of those who lived in these communities. Government records, Library of Congress documents, and other archival sources also provide critical leads and information.



Historically Speaking

When the Confederate States lost the Civil War and enslaved people were released from bondage, most with the clothes on our backs, we went out looking for work. In Northwest Arkansas, the college town of Fayetteville attracted former enslaved people and their families from surrounding areas because there could be opportunity for work in the City. Some may have gotten paid work in the very homes where they or family members were previously held as personal property.
Even if a parent, teacher or mentor doesn't encourage you to begin to take photographs, notes or recordings of your family members as they discuss your personal history, you must take the initiative to help fill in the gaps in our history. For African Americans in all our variety, to be alive today really is a huge feat of courage, persistence and the capacity for love. Let us always note that.

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