Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Notes from the Colored Convention, Little Rock Arkansas 1865

Image from Colored Convention Nashville TN, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Magazine, May 6, 1876

                              We dream no more, our country wakes at last.
                              And reads wise lessons from the stormy past.
                              The spirit of the nation, proud and free
                              Might err and wander reft of memory.

                              But linked to truth, magnetic poles of yore
                              The dead sense wakens and she sins no more.
                              The drama moves, the people fill the stage
                              And virtue will restore the golden age.

~Words from the Colored Convention, 1865, Little Rock Arkansas

Throughout the south in the years after the Civil War, newly freed African people assembled in large numbers to discuss the future, share their common goals and to publicly declare their directions and hopes for the future. These gatherings were known as Colored Conventions and though they are seldom mentioned today, these were critical first steps made by the ancestors on the brink of a new direction and life course.

Such a convention took place in Arkansas in the state capitol in Little Rock in 1865. Most of the delegates were from Pulaski County, but several from other counties also participants. I was glad to see that George Sewell of "Sebastine(sic)" county was there. 

The minutes and proceedings of those meetings are left behind and as we make the effort to tell the family story--we need to incorporate the impact that such meetings may have had on the larger population.

The delegates of the Arkansas Colored Convention were:

From: Proceedings from the Convention of the Colored Citizens of Arkansas Held in Little Rock, Thursday, Friday & Saturday Nov. 30, December 1 and 2, 1865

These pages reflect notes emanating from that first Colored Convention in Arkansas. The minutes of this convention other conventions held throughout the south are found on a wonderful website called "Colored Conventions" .

Although I did not recognize the names of the delegates to the convention, it is still part of the local Arkansas history and these proceedings reflect a strong step that the newly freed population took to determine its own life course, and this is a story that needs to be told.