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Giving Tuesday event shines a light on Black philanthropy across Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK (December 7, 2023) — More than 100 philanthropic professionals, nonprofit and education leaders, and business executives attended the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative’s signature Giving Tuesday event in downtown Little Rock. The theme of the third annual Convening was “OPP: Opportunities in Policy and Philanthropy” in honor of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary.


For the first time, the top leaders at three of Arkansas’ four Historically Black Colleges and Universities shared the stage to discuss how their institutions are responding to the recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that ended race-based admissions policies in higher education. Dr. Laurence B. Alexander, chancellor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson, interim president of Philander Smith University; and Dr. Calvin McFadden Sr., president of Arkansas Baptist College, discussed what policies are needed to ensure equitable funding is available to support the next generation of students of color.


The "Meeting of the Minds" panel featured presidents of HBCUs in Arkansas: Dr. Calvin McFadden Sr., president of Arkansas Baptist College; Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson, interim president of Philander Smith University; and Dr. Laurence B. Alexander, chancellor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Kara Wilkins, ABPC program director, moderated the discussion.

The panelists agreed that while the ruling that ended affirmative action ignored the realities of systemic racism in America, it has strengthened students’ interest in attending HBCUs, which have always been open and accessible.


“The HBCU brand is as great as it has ever been in its history,” Chancellor Alexander said. “It has never shone brighter, it has never stood taller, and I believe people are seeking our institutions. Students are coming for the access, opportunity and experiences that we provide.”


A panel on politics and race featured Black mayors from across the state. Mayor Tomeka Butler of Eudora, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock and Mayor Jaylen Smith of Earle shared the stage to discuss how local municipalities are working to address the needs of their communities – despite ongoing challenges – and how philanthropy can continue to help cities and towns in this emerging political climate. Dr. Abe Hudson Jr., program officer at the Walton Family Foundation and former member of the Mississippi house of representatives, moderated the discussion.


Dr. Abe Hudson Jr., program officer at the Walton Family Foundation, moderated a panel featuring Black mayors in Arkansas: Mayor Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock, Mayor Tomeka Butler of Eudora and Mayor Jaylen Smith of Earle.

During the final session of the day, Keesa Smith, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and Scott Hamilton, president and CEO of The Urban League of Arkansas, led the audience in an interactive discussion about power building and advocacy.


Derek Lewis II, chair of ABPC, presents the inaugural Morrow Black Philanthropy Award to Beverly Morrow, who accepted the award on behalf of her family.

In a surprise announcement, ABPC unveiled an award to recognize the achievements and accomplishments of Black philanthropists in Arkansas. The Morrow family was named the first recipient of the eponymous Morrow Black Philanthropy Award, which will be awarded in years to come to Black philanthropists whose legacy of giving has impacted the state.


Accepting the award was Beverly Morrow. A native New Yorker, Morrow earned degrees in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rutgers University. She and her husband, Curtis Morrow, relocated to Pine Bluff after completing their education and established one of the first Black-owned McDonald’s franchises. They owned and operated multiple McDonald’s restaurants for more than 30 years and incorporated community philanthropy as a core component of their work – a value they instilled in their four children.


“Our family loves to give and support causes that are dear to us, and we want to see Black people succeed,” she said. “We have potential; we just have to be given the opportunity to do things that our counterparts have been able to do.”


Sponsors for ABPC’s third annual Convening were the Arkansas Community Foundation, the Derek Lewis Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.


About the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative

The Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative is dedicated to crafting Black-led solutions for social change in Arkansas. Originating from a 2018 gathering of Black philanthropic leaders, ABPC envisions a future where Black people and philanthropic resources are organized for impactful change. Partnering with four Arkansas-based foundations, ABPC channels collective efforts toward addressing the state’s most pressing challenges. Contributions to its Give Black Arkansas Fund bolster general charitable purposes with a focus on organizations and programs that support Black communities across the state. To learn more about ABPC, visit theabpc.org.

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