February 17, 2016 Edition

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Tompkins to speak at
youth summit at ASU

Ethel Tompkins, who was the first African-American to graduate from Hoxie School, will be the keynote speaker at the Nonviolence Youth Summit XVI: Remember Hoxie on Monday at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

The Nonviolence Youth Summit is designed to encourage youth ages 10 to 18 to engage in positive leadership development and roles within their communities.

Coordinated by the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, the event will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Reng Student Union's Centennial Hall. The story of the 1955 integration of Hoxie School is among the topics that will highlight the summit.

In addition, the Nonviolence Youth Summit and the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce will present a screening of documentary "Hoxie: The First Stand."

"The events in Hoxie represent a pivotal point in American history," said DuShun Scarbrough, executive director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. "On the cusp of the Brown vs. Board decision of 1954, the Hoxie School District attempted to integrate the schools. Several brave students who had previously attended a one-room colored school for grades first through eighth integrated the schools and forever changed the history of public education."

"Truly, Dr. King was the most notable figure in the Civil Rights movement and knew that the changes that needed to be made, he could not accomplish them on his own," Scarbrough said. "Therefore it is also important for us to recognize and remember other trailblazers who made an impact."

The event will also include workshops and breakout sessions. The summit is free and open to the public; however confirmation of attendance is strongly suggested.

"These summits are important and history is important," said Andy Montgomery of Batesville, a commissioner for the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. "It is important for today's generation of youth to know that things were not always like they are today and the opportunities that they enjoy and take for granted, someone had to break the ground to make it possible."

Commission salutes
citizens of Hoxie

The commission released the following information in promotion of Monday's event.

"The first battle to implement the Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation decision was fought in a small, rural town called Hoxie. The situation in Hoxie proved just a foreshadowing for what was to come in nearby Little Rock two years later.

"Hoxie sparked the first deployment of federal agents in support of integration and the first court order overturning state segregation laws. Hoxie was the first school district to fully integrate K-12 students and the first "challenged" school to integrate in 1955.

"With the help of the community and legal counsel the school district prevailed over the opposition that they faced. Hoxie serves as a benchmark and precedent for civil rights in providing equal opportunity to education.

"In 2015, the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the 60th anniversary of the integration of Hoxie schools, and they have announced plans for a community museum to honor the bravery and resilience of those citizens who played a significant role."

The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and the Hoxie Integration were presented with the 2016 Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission Humanities Award for their contributions to American and Arkansas history.

"The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission is pleased to bring this caliber of programming to Jonesboro," Commissioner Elizabeth Johnson of Marianna said. "As a state agency, we make every effort to serve youth in every corner of the state through programming that not only teaches youth about the importance of Dr. King, but about community service, history and topics that are popular with them such as computer coding and bullying."

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