25 years and counting

Arkansas Black Hall of Fame celebrates in style

Posted: November 5, 2017 at 1:30 a.m.

Some said it was the best Arkansas Black Hall of Fame gala they'd attended so far.

And although there were no new inductions at the hall of fame's 25th Anniversary Celebration, held Oct. 28 at the Robinson Center in Little Rock, the black-tie event was indeed one for the history books.

Karen and C.H. Duvall were co-chairmen of the event, attended by a star-studded lineup of inductees and which was kicked off by an elaborate VIP reception in the grand ballroom and lobby area of the adjoining DoubleTree by Hilton. These guests then joined other attendees of the main event, a variety show that took place in the center's Performance Hall and for whom Luenell-- actress, comedian and 2015 inductee -- served as master of ceremonies.

Program highlights were many. Charles Stewart, hall of fame co-founder and committee chairman, was honored with a surprise induction. Performances included a short Prince tribute by Morris Hayes, 2013 honoree and music director for the late legend; T.J. Hooker Taylor's musical tribute to his father, the late inductee and blues recording artist Johnnie Taylor; additional vocal performances by 2016 honoree Cynthia Scott as well as actor-singer Jacquez Swanigan; a performance by gospel organist Moses Tyson Jr.; and a jazz violin performance by Lexington Porter, grandson and nephew of the late inductees Art Porter Sr. and Art Porter Jr.

The Tidwell Project, a staple of the induction ceremonies, reprised its first Hall of Fame dance performance -- one to the Aretha Franklin gospel hit "Mary Don't You Weep." Also making presentations were former U.S. Transportation Secretary and 1997 inductee Rodney Slater; 2002 honoree, publisher and poet Haki Madhubuti; jazz saxophonist and 2004 honoree Pharoah Sanders; and record-company executive Al Bell, 2002 hall of famer. A moving tribute to deceased honorees was presented by Little Rock Nine member and double inductee Ernest Green. Lottie Shackelford, 1993 honoree and onetime Democratic National Committee chairman, announced a $2.5 million endowment campaign for the hall of fame's future.

The evening concluded with an after-party in the Robinson's William Grant Still Ballroom.

-- Story and photos by

Helaine R. Williams

High Profile on 11/05/2017