Black History Month Shows Arkansas at its Best

Take a listen to the Democratic Radio Address!



I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.

Arkansans have a rich history. There really is a great deal for us to take pride in. Throughout our state’s great moments, and crisis, time and time again we have seen great leaders emerge. These are people we should celebrate, who have shown us that good can break through, even when it appears we are in the wilderness.

It shows us that faith, can get a long way.

That’s why we celebrate Black History Month, that’s why we are paying attention to our history.

It’s a time to be inspired. It’s a time to stand firm in our resolve. But it’s also a time enjoy the great accomplishments of our state.

Too often we think of African-American history just a struggle. But it’s not just that. It’s a story of victory. It’s a story of overcoming. Our history certainly has its dark moments, but that’s not who we are. It’s not what defines us. What defines us is the moments where the light has broken through. And time and time again we have seen powerful lights in Arkansas history, prophetic lights.

That’s why we talk about Black History Month. That’s why we celebrate.

We celebrate people like Edith Jones. She was the first African-American to be accepted at a medical school in the entire south. She graduated from the University of Arkansas Medical School.

We celebrate people like Silas Hunt, a World War II veteran, who in 1948 became the first time black student admitted to any all‐white university in the South since Reconstruction, at the U of A’s law school.

We celebrate the men and women who entered the legal world, and made this state better for all of us. People like Scipio Jones, born the son of a slave, defended black sharecroppers after the Elaine Massacre of 1919, the deadliest lynching in U.S. history.

We celebrate the hard things, the difficult things our state has endured. We also celebrate the good, the joy that people have brought this state. People like composer Scott Joplin of Texarkana, who became the “Father of Ragtime Music” fill our rich history, and give us much to be proud about.

These are just a few examples, a few of the people. But we also can rest assured that the heroes of our state, our countless. We all live with our history, and we all can take a role in shaping it.

Black History Month shows Arkansas at its best. It shows the tremendous strides we can take, no matter the circumstances. It also shows us that the seemingly improbable, is often more feasible than we think.

I have faith we will honor these legacies in our state. I have faith we will expect more out of our state in the future. And I have faith our generation will leave a strong legacy for our future generations, for the future history of Arkansas.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Black History Month. I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.”