Tales By The River: Documenting Black Lives Matter
The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 after the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Since that time, the movement has become nationally recognized for bringing attention to incidents of violence against African Americans. The year 2020 saw some of the largest protests in American history following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. These protests even reached Arkansas when thousands of people around the state protested against systemic injustice and the mistreatment of African Americans.
The Little Rock Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission (RCDC) and Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) Butler Center for Arkansas Studies are pleased to announce our collaboration in presenting Tales By The River. This joint venture strengthens the missions of the RCDC to promote equal opportunity and civil rights for all residents of the City of Little Rock, and the CALS Butler Center to facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation of Arkansas history, literature, art, and culture. Together, we are committed to providing methods which inspire people to communicate their own experiences and ideas while connecting with and learning from others.
Storytelling offers a beautiful window into the diversity of our city for others to connect to through unique gifts of expression. When we listen to each other and share our experiences, we gain valuable new perspective and find the importance of what it means to be seen and perceived in the wholeness of humanity.
According to the Black Metropolis Research Consortium at the University of Chicago, “In documenting protests and movements for social justice by, and in alliance with Black people, archives and collections can help preserve records of resistance to racial oppression that inform our past, present and future. As we try to find a way forward, we should look to the past for lessons learned in the fight against racism. And as we try to find a way forward, we should capture the lessons of today to help guide us forward tomorrow.”
We encourage members of our Central Arkansas community to document their experiences related to the Black Lives Matter movement. We are hoping to collect a variety of material including, but not limited to, photographs, poetry, oral history interviews, artwork, and video. Some examples might be photographs of marches, protest signs, or street art. We are also interested in having people conduct oral histories in order to share their more in-depth experiences.
The Butler Center began collecting Black Lives Matter documentation in 2021 around the anniversary of the 2020 demonstrations, and are now re-launching the project in cooperation with the City of Little Rock’s Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission to broaden our reach and engage the Central Arkansas community.