Pettaway Community Oral History now available online at Butler Center history database

mastlogo2The Pettaway Community Oral History Interviews conducted by Rockefeller Elementary 4th and 5th graders is now a part of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies AV/AR online history database (see link below).  Pettaway Community Oral Historians included: Melrita Russ-Bonner, Maggie Hawkins, P.H. Gilkey, Joan Adcock, Carol Tabron, Steve Bullock and Faye Russ.

The Pettaway community oral history interviews is a wonderful exchange of community history that exemplifies the light, life and love of the Pettaway community.  Enjoy and share this link widely.

Rockefeller 4th and 5th graders interview Pettaway oral historians

On December 6, 2012 Winthrop Rockefeller Early Childhood and Elementary Magnet School 4th and 5th Graders met and interviewed present (and former) Pettaway community residents.  The oral history interviews were recorded by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and is the first phase in a public art collaboration between the Pettaway Neighborhood and Rockefeller Elementary.  The students at Rockefeller Elementary will be designing a community inspired mural that will depict the love, light and life of the Pettaway community.  The mural will be painted on the wall of the I-30 overpass at the corner of East 17th and McAlmont Streets.

The Pettaway community oral historians included: Joan Adcock, Melrita Russ-Bonner, Steve Bullock, P.H. Gilkey, Maggie Hawkins, Faye Russ and Carol Tabron.

Through this wonderful sharing the students gained a better sense of community, their community.  They learned that the children who lived in the community in the 1920’s, 30’s 40’s, etc. were know different than they were.  They were told about the ghost of MacArthur Park, local businesses like AJ’s Snack Shop and Hawkins Dry Cleaners.  They learned that Horace Mann High School (now Junior High School) was the school African Americans were able to attend.  They learned that a house on East 21st Street was the oldest house in the Pettaway Community.  The oral historians talked about the tornado that came through the area in the late 1990’s and how neighbors and the surrounding communities banded together to help those in need.  They also shared that many of their children and grandchildren attended Rockefeller Elementary.  In fact we learned that a couple of them were substitute teachers at Rockefeller.

It was a very special experience, one which the students and teachers will remember.

In January 2013 the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies will partner with the Pettaway Neighborhood Association to host a special oral history week at the Butler Center.  During this week current and former residents are invited to come to the Butler Center to record their stories.  Individuals will need to bring someone to interview and will have the opportunity to have their interviews recorded in the Butler Center recording studio.  These interviews will then be saved in the Butler Center Arkansas history archives.   Stay tuned for this event in the early part of 2013 and bring someone to interview.








My Community: Pettaway Community Oral History Interviews

Pettaway Neighborhood Association
in partnership with
Winthrop Rockefeller Early Childhood and Elementary Magnet School
MY COMMUNITY: Pettaway Community Oral History Interviews

Thursday, December 6, 2012 | 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm | Rockefeller Elementary School (700 East 17th Street, Little Rock, AR 72206)

Come discover the Pettaway community as Rockefeller Elementary 4th and 5th Graders interview Pettaway Community Historians (former and current residents) about growing up and living in this special Little Rock neighborhood.  Pettaway Community Historians include:  Carl Vault, Maggie Hawkins, Joan Adcock, Steve Bulloch, Faye Russ, Don Molden and Carol Tabron.

The Pettaway Neighborhood Association was among a number of community groups and organizations who received a $1000.00 Love Your Block City of Little Rock Neighborhood Challenge Grant.  Pettaway N.A. was awarded the grant in June 2012 to create a community inspired mural depicting the love, light and life of the Pettaway Neighborhood on the wall of the I-30 overpass at East 17th Street.  The children at Rockefeller Elementary School under the tutelage of Sharon Boyd-Struthers will design the mural and their parents and the adults residing in the community will paint it.

The Pettaway Community Oral History Interviews mark the first step in the mural design process.  The children must understand the community in which they attend school and where many reside in order to conceptualize a design that depicts the light, life and love of this neighborhood.

To learn more about the Pettaway N.A. peruse our blog.  For questions about this event call Kwadjo Boaitey at 501.786.4255 or Principal Janice Wilson or Sharon Boyd-Struthers at 501.447.6200.  Visit Rockefeller Elementary on Facebook here.  For a flyer of this event click here.

This very special event is FREE and open to the general public.


Neighborhood Spotlight: Judge Olly Neal

Judge Olly Neal

Retired Appellate Court Judge, Olly Neal was featured in New York Times, Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Nicholas Kristof’s column last week (January 21, 2012).   Judge Olly Neal and his wife, Karen Buchanan, are long time downtown Little Rock residents.  Ms. Buchanan is a former Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation (DLRCDC) Board member.

Here’s an excerpt of the article.  Enjoy!
IF you want to understand how great teachers transform lives, listen to the story of Olly Neal.A recent study showed how a great elementary schoolteacher can raise the lifetime earnings of a single class by $700,000. After I wrote about the study, skeptics of school reform wrote me to say: sure, a great teacher can make a difference in the right setting, but not with troubled, surly kids in a high-poverty environment. If you think that, or if you scoff at the statistics, then listen to Neal.

In the late 1950s, Olly Neal was a poor black kid with an attitude. He was one of 13 brothers and sisters in a house with no electricity, and his father was a farmer with a second-grade education. Neal attended a small school for black children — this was in the segregated South — and was always mouthing off. He remembers reducing his English teacher, Mildred Grady, to tears.

Reflections: Pettaway Neighborhood Association

Pettaway Park

 History of Pettaway Neighborhood Association

Pettaway residents rallied together in May 1992 to address an increase in gang activities, drug problems, blighted lots, decline of home ownership, and an elevated level of fear among the property owners who lived in downtown Little Rock’s East of Main street area.  They met and began working with the City of Little Rock to try and find solutions for some of these issues.  One of the major obstacles for residents of the Pettaway Park area was gang infestation and other undesirable activities occuring in the park.

Concerned residents met in the home of Mrs. Bertha Vault along with City of Little Rock Board of Director member, Joan Adcock.  With Director Adcock’s assistance residents formed the first neighborhood association in July of 1994.

Residents worked diligently within the neighborhood to reimage their community in a family oriented manner opposite of that portrayed in the HBO documentary “Banging in Little Rock.”

The name of the association was changed from East of Broadway Association to Pettaway Neighborhood Association in 2003 due to a request from some residents who wanted the association named after the prominent black doctor, Dr. Charles D. Pettaway.

Residents also met monthly at Greater Macedonia Baptist Church on East 24th Street.  Working together they wrote a proposal for an alert center in October 1994.  In 1995 the City of Little Rock received a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant for an alert center and in October 1996 as a result of participation, commitment, hard work and collaboration of residents with the City of Little Rock, the residents in the East of Main Street area were fortunate to obtain the East Broadway Alert Center at 500 East 21st. Street, Little Rock, AR 72206, where the community still meets today.


More on Reverend Dr. Charles D. Pettaway

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Reverend Charles Pettaway and Fred Thomas Jones Sr., a physician and pioneer in providing insurance and medical care to African Americans in Arkansas and Louisiana established the United Friends of America in 1918.  In 1919, Jones established the Great Southern Fraternal Hospital in Little Rock.  Located in the predominantly black area of Little Rock, near the intersection of 9th and State streets, the hospital provided medical care for members of two black fraternal organizations: the United Friends of America and the Independent Order of Immaculates.  White doctors operated at the hospital along with Jones and other black physicians.

St. Luke’s Baptist Church records Reverend Dr. C.D. Pettaway as Pastor of its church in 1947.  In 1957 Dr. Pettaway was elected president of the National Baptist Convention of America and served in that capacity for 10 years.

At a convention meeting (September 1966) in Kansas City, M.O., Jet Magazine, records Dr. Pettaway as stating: “I don’t believe in black power.  I don’t believe, either, in white power.  What I do believe in is ‘Right Power.’  Martin Luther King’s way for us is the best way.  That way is nonviolence.  I love everybody.  I don’t hate anybody.  God didn’t put us here to seek power of ourselves.  He put us here to develop the world to glorify his name and spread good will and fellowship everywhere.”

Reverend Dr. Charles D. Pettaway was born December 18, 1886 and died August 20, 1968.  He is buried at Haven of Rest Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.