For years, historians worried that without a concerted collecting and preservation effort, the rich history of Arkansas’s black community would be lost. In 1991, State Senator Jerry Jewell sponsored Senate Bill 710, passed as Act 1233 of the 78th General Assembly. This act established the Arkansas Black History Advisory Committee (ABHAC), and charged the commission with preserving the history of black Arkansans and promoting the teaching of black history in Arkansas’s schools.
Since the act’s passage, the name of the ABHAC has changed to the Black History Commission of Arkansas (BHCA), but the mission remains the same. The BHCA continues to collect materials on Arkansas’s black history and history makers for the Arkansas State Archives, and works to raise awareness of the contributions and impact that black Arkansans have had on the state’s history. The BHCA sponsors two annual workshops devoted to black history in February and June; and also administers a grant program that provides support for preservation and public programming projects related to Arkansas’s black history.