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BRTC Announces Black History Month Event


POCAHONTAS — Black River Technical College (BRTC), in collaboration with First Horizon Bank, and the Eddie Mae Herron Center/Museum will host a Black History Month event at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 7 at the Randolph County Development Center on the Pocahontas BRTC campus, located at 1410 Hwy. 304 East.

This year’s Black History Month Event will feature two one-man-shows, Starry Road to Freedom, performed by Darius Wallace, and Live Rich, or Die Poor, performed by Ann Perry Wallace.

Writer, Actor and Director Darius Wallace of Memphis will perform a tantalizing account of the life of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Written and performed by Wallace.

The story of Douglass’ life is one of great sorrow and overcoming of adversity.

He was born on a plantation in Maryland in 1818 during a time of slavery and oppression. He was treated inhumanely; being fed small amounts of food, regular whippings and back breaking labor. He was denied a relationship with his mother as she lived on another plantation and Douglass was raised by his grandparents and aunt. At the age of eight, he lost them as well as he was sent to Baltimore where he lived with a ship carpenter named Hugh Auld, who taught him to read. “Going to live in Baltimore,” Douglass would later say, “laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity,” according to

That foundation led to him being an anti-slavery abolitionist, a mouthpiece for the oppressed and his speeches changed many minds and hearts. He rose to fame with the publication of his first book “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.” He founded his first antislavery newspaper “The North Star” in 1847 furthering the reach of his voice.

Wallace will tell Douglass’ story through song, monologues and poetry. Wallace said, his hope is that audiences will be inspired by Frederick Douglass’s ability to overcome adversity through the power and inspiration of the written and spoken word.

“With this power we can not only transform ourselves but also the world around us,” Wallace said Wallace was raised in Flint, Michigan where he fell in love with the “world of performing.” He attended Interlochen Arts Academy, a private arts school geared towards students pursuing pre-professional training in music, theatre, visual arts, creative writing, and comparative arts alongside strict curriculum, where he studied theatre. He also attended the State University of New York located at Purchase, New York.

Wallace’s theater experience includes Michigan Shakespeare Festival in Jackson, Michigan, Flint Youth Theater in Flint, Michigan, Attic Theater in Menasha, Wisconsin, and Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee. He is currently a member of the Tennessee Shakespeare Company and Voices of the South, both of Memphis.

His movie and television credits are Nothing but the Truth, Brian Banks, The World We Make, Nashville on ABC, Bluff City Law on NBC, Wedding at Graceland on The Hallmark Channel, Law and Order SUV, and Tyler

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Perry’s Sistas. He also directed, wrote, and produced the movie 100 Lives, which can be found on Amazon.

Wallace has traveled the country performing the poetry of Langston Hughes and enacting one man shows about Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King. He has also worked as a Speaking Coach with companies Commercial Advisors, Nucor Steel, Sycamore Pictures and TED X Memphis.

Live Rich, or Die Poor will be performed by Actor and Writer Ann Perry Wallace of Memphis. Ann earned a Bachelor’s of Art Degree in Theater at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and worked in theater at Chicago for 15 years.

She also played multiple roles in the Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s educational tour of Romeo and Juliet. Other theater credits Ann holds include Blues for an Alabama Sky, From the Mississippi Delta, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World, and Women in Shakespeare. Ann can also be seen in the independent films 100 Lives, The Romance of Loneliness, and The Department of Signs and Magical Intervention. She was last seen in Tennessee Shakespeare’s To Kill A Mockingbird.

Live Rich, Die Poor is Ann’s first one person play and is based on the life of Zora Neale Hurston, the famed folklorist and Harlem Renaissance writer.

Based on the life of Zora Neale Hurston, the brilliant writer from the Harlem Renaissance who gave us her seminal work Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Actress and writer Ann Perry Wallace re-imagines scenes from Hurston’s life.

From her happy days in Eatonville to the devastating loss of her mother and hints of the lost years of wandering that she never spoke of. Arriving in New York and becoming a fixture within the art world of the Harlem Renaissance.

Becoming an academic, and falling out with her best friend Langston Hughes.

The play begins in 1973 with writer Alice Walker discovering Zora Neale Hurston's unmarked grave in a quest to honor Hurston, and proclaim the late writer's genius. During Alice's search for the unmarked grave and her desire to breathe life into Zora's work, she accidentally awakens Zora. After which, Walker learns that Zora, in the haziness of death and all of the places her spirit has been, no longer remembers the prolific, rich life she led and thus cannot understand her impact.

“This is a study of a woman who fought to live and use every single gift while she lived. Her life has the power to instruct, inspire and illuminate. This show captures the vulnerable Zora we don't often read about, and it asks us if we are living in a way in which we are emptying ourselves out and using all of our gifts,” said Wallace.

“Strap in and put yourself in Zora's shoes as she confronts her life choices and discovers the reach of her impact.”


Court hears appeal in state redsitricting case

LITTLE ROCK — A federal appeals court heard arguments Wednesday over whether the Voting Rights Act allows private citizens to sue to enforce a key part of the 1965 law prohibiting discriminatory voting practices.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department told an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that a judge in an Arkansas redistricting case was wrong to say that only the U.S. attorney general could file such lawsuits.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky made that conclusion as he dismissed the lawsuit by two groups challenging Arkansas’ new state House districts.

“For over 40 years, dozens of federal courts have heard hundreds of Section 2 claims brought by federal plaintiffs,” Sophia Lin Lakin, co-director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, told told the threejudge panel during a 44 minute hearing. “In that time, not one court denied the plaintiffs their day in court because of a lack of private action.”

The ACLU represents the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Arkansas State Conference NAACP, which sued challenging the new map for the House districts approved by a state panel in 2021. The groups argued the redrawn maps diluted the influence of Black voters in the state.

The state’s redistricting plan created 11 majority-Black districts, which the groups challenging the map argued was too few. They argued the state could have drawn 16 majority-Black districts to more closely mirror the state’s Black population.

An attorney for the state said the 1965 law never explicitly allows for private citizens to sue to enforce Section 2, and noted that Congress has never added such language over the years.

“I would say that Congress has left this as an open issue,” Solicitor General Nicholas Bronni said.

Jonathan Backer, an attorney with the Justice Department, told the panel that voting rights have traditionally been viewed as private rights.

“It’s quite clear from the text of the statute and the legislative history and ratification history that Congress always intended private enforcement of voting rights statutes,” Backer said.

Arkansas’ House map was approved in 2021 by the state Board of Apportionment, which is comprised of the state’s GOP governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers of Arkansas’ legislature.

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