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The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame will induct six new honorees into its organization.

The inductees are Kevin Cole, a mixed-media visual artist; Brent Jennings, a film and stage actor; Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, the U.S. Army deputy chief of staff for logistics at the Pentagon; Florence Price, the first black woman recognized as a symphonic composer and to have a composition played by a major orchestra; Darrell Walker, a former National Basketball Association and collegiate player, and now a coach; and Mary Louise Williams, an education advocate and political leader.

These six people will join the Hall of Fame's more than 140 members, said Charles Stewart, the chairman of the Hall of Fame's board. The organization, established in 1992, is holding its 26th event this year.

At the induction -- set for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Robinson Center Performance Hall in Little Rock -- the Hall of Fame will offer a variety show featuring comedy, dance and music. The organization is offering a VIP package that includes a meal and access to the show and after-party. The event's organizers are also offering less expensive tickets that only include the induction, part of an effort to include the entire community in the event and to allow lower-income residents to attend, Stewart said.

The hall generally inducts five living black Arkansans each year. The organizers also choose one posthumous honoree each year "so that we can go back and pick up the omissions of history," Stewart said.

"The Black Hall of Fame plays a significant role in making sure their legacies are not forgotten," Stewart said.

This year's posthumous honor went to Price, who died in 1953. Two of Price's descendants will accept the award on her behalf, and a string quartet will perform some of her music. Price regained national prominence after a person in Chicago found a collection of her work while renovating a home.

"It's just a very timely opportunity to ensure this woman gets her proper honor and attention," Stewart said of Price.

Walker, one of the five living honorees, has dedicated his life to Arkansas basketball, playing at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and now coaching at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Walker also enjoyed a 10-year career with the NBA, ending his professional playing career with a championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1993.

Walker described his years at UA as important to his learning to become a man. He's been living in Little Rock since 1983, he said. Although born in Chicago, "I'm a native son now," Walker said of Arkansas.

"I've tried to always be an ambassador for the state of Arkansas," Walker said.

Stewart said all the nominees are sources of pride for Arkansas and that Jennings is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood today.

"Anybody who's anybody in acting, he's generally been in movies with them," Stewart said.

Stewart also heralded Cole, whose artwork has often addressed Arkansas lynchings and has been on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Piggee, who now works at the Pentagon, has commanded thousands of soldiers and worked to equip missions in Syria and Afghanistan.

Williams devoted 42 years of her life to Arkansas education, and she served 30 of those years in Little Rock.

All the nominees have made significant contributions to American culture and life, Stewart said.

"They were chosen because they have gained national and sometimes international acclaim in their chosen endeavors," Stewart said.

Kevin Cole
Brent Jennings
Lt. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee
Florence B. Price
Darrell Walker
Mary Louise Williams

Metro on 09/11/2018

Print Headline: Black Hall of Fame announces '18 class of inductees

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