El Dorado News-Times
Conference Center exhibit honors Black, women’s history
“My thing was to try to grab those for the exhibit who don’t have a lot of exposure, who are from this area but a lot of people don’t realize it.”
A new exhibit is currently on display at the El Dorado Conference Center featuring a celebration of notable African-American women from Union County and Arkansas.
The exhibit, entitled “We Can Do It,” is part of the Conference Center’s South Arkansas Gallery Collective and was curated by the South Arkansas Historical Preservation Society. As part of the Gallery Collective, SAHPS rotates exhibits every few months with the South Arkansas Arts Center.
SAHPS curator Darrin Riley said the exhibit highlights the historical achievements of local women.
“The exhibit is for Black History Month but has more of a focus on women from South Arkansas and Arkansas who have made name for themselves nationally and internationally,” Riley said.
Particular focus, he added, was given to women who might be relatively unknown locally.
“My thing was to try to grab those for the exhibit who don’t have a lot of exposure, who are from this area but a lot of people don’t realize it,” Riley said.
Riley highlighted Gertrude Jeanette as a standout example.
Born in Urbana, Ark., Jeanette moved to New York City and became the first woman to earn a license to drive a taxi and went on to become deeply involved in theatre.
“I don’t think people realize what a force [Jeanette] was, not only being the first taxi driver in New York who was a woman but also within working on early Black theatre, developing the Harlem School of Acting,” Riley said.
Other women highlighted in the exhibit include Edomae Boone Watson, Roberta Evelyn Martin and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
The exhibit will be up at the Conference Center for several months, Riley said.
Another portion of the exhibit is part of SAHPS’ Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition (SITE) collaboration.
“That part goes more into women’s history, the suffragettes - women instrumental in gaining the right to vote,” Riley said.
The exhibit is currently on display at the El Dorado Conference Center - located at 311 S. West Avenue - and is open to the public.