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Arkansas African American Legislators, 1868-1893

It's one of two new exhibits at the State Capitol.
LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) - Secretary of State Mark Martin has announced the opening of two exhibits at the State Capitol. 

“February is Black History Month, and this is a great time to honor the African Americans who have served in the Arkansas legislature,” Martin said. 

Arkansas African American Legislators, 1868-1893, is a traveling exhibit produced by the Arkansas History Commission and Black History Commission of Arkansas. It will be displayed at the Arkansas State Capitol throughout the month. 

The exhibit tells the story of the 85 African-Americans who served in the Arkansas General Assembly during the last half of the nineteenth century. In 1868, Arkansas adopted a new constitution; its provisions included the right to vote and hold public office for black males. African American lawyers, merchants, ministers, educators, farmers, and other professionals served in the Arkansas General Assembly. 

The display features photographs of 46 of the 85 legislators. Also featured is a complete listing of the legislators and a short history of post-Civil War and election law “reforms” that effectively ended African Americans’ election to legislative positions until the 1970s. 

“I encourage all Arkansans, regardless of race or ethnicity, to visit the Capitol during February to see this important exhibit,” Martin said. 

The exhibit is located in the Capitol’s first floor Rotunda area. 

“We have also opened our spring exhibit, examining products manufactured in Arkansas,” Martin said. “Everyone knows about our agriculture, our commodities and our resources, but many people don’t know about manufacturing in our state.” 

Made Here: From Arkansas, for the World highlights a handful of roughly 3,000 Arkansas manufacturers whose products are made in Arkansas, destined for national and even global markets. 

During the 1950s, state and local governments began to actively court manufacturers, touting Arkansas’s work force, a favorable tax and financial climate and a location with good access to both materials and markets. The Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, created in 1955, helped “sell” Arkansas to producers. Over time, many factories and assembly shops have closed, but others continue to open. Currently about 163,000 Arkansans work in manufacturing, and in 2012, their output was valued at nearly $16 billion. 

Made Here profiles the histories of six of Arkansas’s major manufacturers, including Daisy Outdoor Products, Baldor Electric, Remington Arms, American Railcar Industries, Ranger Boats and Alliance Rubber. Images and items supplied by these companies help tell their stories and illustrate the output of their Arkansas operations. 

These include small arms ammunition and components from Remington and the prototype for Daisy’s 2015 Red Ryder 75th anniversary commemorative edition airgun. Alliance Rubber of Hot Springs has supplied what may be the exhibit’s most eye-catching single item: a dress adorned with literally thousands of varicolored rubber bands. Across from the dress, a pair of long-bill scissors commemorates one of Twentieth-century Arkansas’s pioneering manufacturers, Solid Steel Scissors of Fort Smith. 

Made Here is located on the Capitol’s ground floor, north and south of the rotunda area.  It will remain on display through mid-May.
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