About The Commission
The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission was created by Act 1216 of 1993. The Commission is an offspring of the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday Commission and was established under then-Governor Bill Clinton by executive order. The Commission was created to promote the legacy and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Initially, the Commission had one staff person and was housed within the Governor’s Office at the State Capitol.
Governor Jim Guy Tucker appointed the 25 member board and recommended that Tracy Steele serve as Executive Director. Senator Steele served as Executive Director until November 2006, and in March 2008, a new Executive Director, DuShun Scarbrough, was appointed by the Commission. In 1997, The Commission developed a mission statement, purpose, goals and objectives; as well as a Junior Commission comprised of youth from across the region. In November 2018, the Commission relocated its current headquarters to 906 Broadway in the historic Ninth Street District.
Because of its limited resources, a consensus determined that the Commission would focus on youth- oriented projects first, and then expand. Violence and crime among youth were critical concerns with the people of Arkansas. Then-Governor Jim Guy Tucker called a special legislative session to deal with the problem of juvenile crime. The Commission formed the Junior Commission Board, which is composed of Arkansas high school and college students who have demonstrated strong qualities of leadership and community service. The Junior Commissioners have particular influence in advising the Commission on projects dealing with youth. Junior Commissioners have since been replaced with the development of Youth Commissioners. Each board member is able to choose one youth commissioner to represent their district. Each youth commissioner is a high school student who demonstrates strong leadership qualities and a desire to serve the community. Youth commissioners serve in a variety of areas including public speaking, volunteering, mentoring in our Dream Keepers, and Leadership, Education, and Acceptance of Diversity, or L.E.A.D. programs, established in 2008 by Executive Director, DuShun Scarbrough, and advising the commission on projects dealing with youth.
Programs Sponsored by the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission
A Day of Service: A Day On, Not A Day Off
The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission has implemented a program that is designed to promote and honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This annual event, “A Day of Service”, targets homeless individuals and others who may not have certain resources available to them. Speakers such as Martin Luther King III and Isaac Farris (Dr. King’s nephew), Erick Braeden (Y & R’s Victor Newman), as well as entertainers across the state have come to help celebrate Dr. King’s life and motivate others to do the same. These events are always free and open to the public and we encourage the community to participate in various service projects throughout the dayArkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission hosts the largest Day of Service in the Nation
Nonviolence Youth Summits
The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission (AMLKC), with the assistance of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), has implemented a program that is designed to encourage youth ages 10 to 18 to engage in positive leadership development and roles within their communities. These summits educate the youth of Arkansas on professional development, leadership, Arkansas history, crime prevention, and so much more. The AMLKC’s mission with these summits is to teach and reach youth in all regions of the state. These summits are always free and open to all with free lunch and other giveaways provided to those that attend. The AMLKC with the support and aid of DHS has had great success in holding Nonviolence Youth Summits, which have each garnered the attendance of hundreds of youth.
L.E.A.D. Apprenticeship and Dreamkeepers
L.E.A.D. is a mentorship and leadership program designed to enhance our youth through- SOCIAL, ACADEMIC AND CAREER MENTORSHIP. The term “mentoring”, refers to a supportive relationship that is characterized by constructive role modeling, encouragement towards raised aspirations, and a positive reinforcement of the achievement of goals. L.E.A.D. is an essential program that reaches out to a wide variety of communities for purposes of gathering youth from different walks of life. Within this group of youth, we introduce the six principles of non-violence from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The program aims towards diversity; through group discussions, workshops and special presentations/speeches; we address the needs of the youth, which include:
• To develop and enhance a sense of student identity, and self-esteem.
• To become effectively integrated into the school, to articulate why they should care about finishing school at all.
• To articulate a sense of purpose about pursuing their particular program of study; and
• To acquire the necessary skills to become independent, and lifelong learners.
We assist our youth and help them to see the importance of being a leader and giving their time, talent and experience back to the community. Therefore as this time, the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission would like to extend an invitation to you in order that you might make a decision to participate, to help reach out to the youth of Arkansas and their communities while ensuring the success of the L.E.A.D. program.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman and civil rights leader who was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday, April 4, 1968, at the age of 39; King was a prominent leader of the civil rights movement and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was known for his use of civil disobedience and non-violence. Each year the Arkansas MLK, Jr. Commission hosts a commemorative vigil honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King.
Coretta Scott King Women's Conference
In the spirit of Dr. King, and to honor his right hand and beloved wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission will host an Annual Coretta Scott King Women’s Conference. The annual women’s conference is held at correctional facilities throughout the state.
Mission Statement: The mission of the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission is to promote understanding and acceptance of nonviolence and human equality as a way of building community among all Arkansans!
Harrison marchers ‘bury’ racial hatred
HARRISON — About 300 people marched through downtown Harrison on Tuesday night in a symbolic funeral procession to bury racial bias and hatred. Erin Knight, 12, of North Little Rock, and Kaylen Smith, 13, of Little Rock, led the procession carrying signs that read “I Am a Man.” Similar signs were carried by striking Memphis sanitation workers in 1968, signifying the right of all men to be treated equally. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while on a trip to Memphis to show his support for those on strike. The group walked four blocks from the Lyric Theater to Fire Station No. 1, where they held what they called a funeral for racism and hatred. They buried a casket facedown next to a headstone that read in part: “Here lies the stigma of racism that has burdened Harrison’s past.”
Then a vigil was held for King in front of the Harrison City Hall. It was the first time that the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission held the vigil outside Little Rock. For the past six years, the vigil has been on the steps of the state Capitol around the anniversary of King’s death, which was on April 4, 1968. DuShun Scarbrough, Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, said there was a great turnout Tuesday. “Truly amazing! Right here in Harrison. … A very diverse crowd came out to celebrate our sixth annual vigil to show that Dr. King’s legacy still lives on,” he said. “We have folks here who are outstanding in exemplifying his noble tenets and legacy.” The march began after a musical event at the Lyric Theater.The Harrison High School Band and drum corps from Hall High School in Little Rock performed during the march. The color guard from the Cass Jobs Center in Franklin County served as symbolic pallbearers. Gov. Mike Beebe’s deputy chief of staff, Lamar Davis, participated in the march and the vigil, along with other dignitaries.
During Tuesday’s march, the Rev. Cecil Gibson — a teacher at North Little Rock Academy — recited from four of King’s speeches, starting with what is known as King’s “mountaintop speech.” It was the speech King gave at Mason Temple in Memphis the night before his death. “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life,” said Gibson, quoting King. “Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
A group of students from Pine Bluff said the Harrison march was “great.” “We get along,” said David Strickland, 14, a student at Robert F. Moorehead Middle School in Pine Bluff. “Everybody gets along now with each other.” Harrison has had a history of racial turmoil. Two race riots in 1905 and 1909 forced almost all black residents from the city. Now, about 34 of Harrison’s 12,943 residents are black. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — one of several Klan groups in the U.S. — is based 15 miles east of Harrison in Zinc. Thom Robb is national director of the Knights. About 4 p.m. Tuesday, Scarbrough ran into Robb in the restaurant of the Hotel Seville in Harrison. The two agreed to answer some questions from reporters. Robb was asked about references he has made to “white genocide.” “We are concerned about white genocide,” said Robb. “The guilt trip being put upon white kids for nothing more than loving who they are, loving their heritage, loving their culture. … The attitude that they have to somehow continually always and forever apologize for something that happened 100 years ago.” At that point, Scarbrough interrupted Robb, saying he was through with the impromptu news conference, and Scarbrough and his group left the restaurant.
Scarbrough said he got the idea for the mock funeral after hearing on March 12 that a second billboard may go up in Harrison with a message about race. In October, a billboard with the message “Anti-Racist Is A Code Word For Anti-White” was posted along Harrison’s busy U.S. 62/65 bypass. In March, a billboard with an image of a white family was placed under that one reading, “Welcome to Harrison. Beautiful town. Beautiful people. No wrong exits. No bad neighborhoods.” No one has claimed responsibility for the billboards. Harrison’s Community Task Force on Race Relations responded to the October billboard with a “Love Your Neighbor” campaign, and Mayor Jeff Crockett donated space on two billboards he owns in Harrison for that counter-message. Task force billboards and T-shirts include the King quote “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can drive out hate."