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Arkansas Black Hall of Fame announces new inductees

Daniel Breen
Charles Stewart, CEO of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, announces six new inductees at the Robinson Center in downtown Little Rock.

Six more Black Arkansans are being celebrated for their achievements as the newest members of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

This year’s inductees include Arkansas-born leaders in business, medicine and acting among other fields. The organization, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, hasn’t inducted new members for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charles Stewart, CEO of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, says proceeds from the upcoming induction ceremony will benefit the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation.

“Our foundation has given away hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to nonprofits across the State of Arkansas who are working to improve education, health and wellness, youth development, strengthening families, economic development in Black and other underserved communities throughout the State of Arkansas,” Stewart said.

Among this year’s inductees are Grammy-nominated singer and actress Ketty Lester, former NFL player James F. Thrower, and Dr. Joe L. Hargrove, the first Black cardiologist to practice in Arkansas. Other inductees are Sherman Banks, former president of Sister Cities International, and Hattie Hill, known for her work in the field of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Gertrude Newsome-Jackson, a community activist and civil rights leader from the Arkansas Delta, will also be posthumously honored.

Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO Gina Gemberling, said the group’s upcoming induction ceremony will take place at the Robinson Center, which hosted the group's first such ceremony 30 years ago.

“This building has hosted incredible Black performers like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington, so it’s only fitting that we should be the venue to usher in these inspiring Black Arkansans,” Gemberling said. “Also, down the street in the Statehouse Convention Center, we showcase the gallery of inductees that allows more than 100,000 people each year to learn more about how these leaders have shaped the great State of Arkansas.”

The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set for Oct. 15.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.