STAMPS, Ark. — Two tributes to African American history were stolen from the small south Arkansas town of Stamps just days after the town’s first African American mayor took office.
Stamps is the childhood home of renown poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou.
Brenda Davis became a part of the town’s rich history last month when Stamps elected her mayor.
“I wish she was here,” Davis said of Angelou. “I wish she was here to witness this.”
Part of the town’s history is now missing. Not one but two historical tributes were stolen from Maya Angelou Memorial Park during Davis’ first weekend in office.
“I went into work Monday morning, and first thing I met with my chief of police,” Davis recalled. “He said ‘Mayor, I have some bad news…’"
Missing from the park named in Angelou’s honor is a wooden placard bearing her name and a bronze bust honoring three African American men who served in the state legislature after the Civil War. The bust alone is worth roughly $2,500, according to Davis. She says the news brought tears to her eyes.
While Mayor Davis doesn’t know if the theft is racially motivated, Lexi Fuller lives across the street from the park and says she’s sure of it.
“As soon as she got elected, it happened,” Fuller said. “It’s just not right at all.”
A lifelong Stamps resident, Fuller is proud of the woman who put her town on the map.
“[Angelou] used to live right over here, on this road,” Fuller points out. “They should respect her more.”
As new Mayor Davis sets off to make history of her own, she’s determined to leave this crime in the past.
“Replacing it, moving on,” she said. “Not letting this get the best of us.”
The Arkansas Historic Commission has agreed to replace the stolen bust. The replacement should be ready by January 2018.
No word yet on efforts to replace the Angelou placard.
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