The free conference, to be held in Helena, Arkansas on February 10-11, 2000 is jointly sponsored by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System, the Delta Cultural Center, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the Phillips County Historical Society. The conference is funded in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Arkansas Black History Advisory Committee, a part of the Arkansas History Commission.
The conference will open with a free reception, open to the public, hosted by the Butler Center. Highlighting Thursday evening's program will be the first showing of a new documentary, "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow: The Elaine Race Riots," a film by Richard Wormser and Videoline Productions of New York. Tom Dillard, Curator of the Butler Center, will follow the film with an overview of racial violence in Arkansas history. The evening's program will conclude with a community panel discussion on how the black and white communities have interpreted the so-called riots and how they have affected relations between the two groups over the years.
Friday's schedule will begin with a program titled "Sharecropping, Tenant Farming, Peonage, and Profits: The Delta Economy at the Advent of the Riot," to be presented by Dr. Nan Woodruff, Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University and an authority on Southern Agricultural History. Ronnie Nichols, a free-lance historian and former Director of the Delta Cultural Center, will follow with a survey of the black leadership at the time of the riots, and Dr. John W. Graves, Professor of History at Henderson State University, will conclude the morning's program with an examination of the white leadership.
The conference will include a new documentary presentation and will feature several experts in the fields of history and law.
Grif Stockley, a Little Rock attorney and author will be the luncheon speaker. Mr. Stockley is currently writing a novel on the Elaine riots, and will speak on the landmark legal case that resulted from the riots. Dr. Jeannie Whayne, Director of the Arkansas Center for Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas and Editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, will contrast the various historical interpretations of the Elaine riots. The last program will be a panel discussion on the need for additional research on the Elaine riots that might provide for greater understanding and reconciliation. This panel will be led by Dr. Richard Cortner, Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University, a leading Constitutional Law scholar, and author of A Mob Intent on Death, a book which analyzes the litigation that arouse from the riots and eventually resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The conference will conclude Friday afternoon with a guided bus tour of the Elaine area. Tour participants will be shown several places of interest connected with the riots. Pre-registration and reservations can be made by calling Tom Dillard or Cary Cox at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Little Rock Public Library (501)918-3056; or Nashid Madyun at the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, (870)338-4350.