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Serica Cole Keeps Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Rooted in African-American History

Gallery by Karen E. Segrave

Sericia Cole with daughter, Sydney, and son, Evan at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center


I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore

When he beats his bars and would be free; It is not a carol of joy or glee,

But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,

But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings- I know why the caged bird sings.

The excerpt from African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy,” among his other works, inspired another acclaimed poet and author, Maya Angelou. She titled her 1969 autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” about her early years of life in Stamps, Arkansas. It was the first in a seven-volume series illustrating the transformation of a victim of racism and trauma into one of the country’s most identifiable voices of creativity, talent and perseverance.

Maya Angelou is just one of over 85 African-Americans with Arkansas roots who are featured in the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, established in 1992 to celebrate their accomplishments and significant impact on American History. An impressive exhibit of the Hall of Fame’s inductees is housed on the third floor of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC). It highlights the inductees’ achievements in art, music, education, civil rights, sports and more from the early 20th century to the present.

MTCC Director Sericia Cole says, “The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is Arkansas’ museum of African-American History. We collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate that heritage. The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame is an important part of our work showing kids and members of the community different achievers that did not come from places of privilege.”

“Every job I’ve had has been about making people’s lives better. The focus of my career has been about helping Arkansans,” Sericia shares. “We do that here. We have a unique responsibility as a cultural center to address issues in the community, to understand and appreciate humanity in one another, and to not create negative cycles all over again. We’re a state museum for everyone. This is Arkansas’ and everybody’s history.”

Sericia shares that message with her own family. She is married to Rod Cole. They have three children, Julien, 25; Sydney, 19; and Evan, 16; and two grandchildren. “Education opens and exposes you to so much. We have a responsibility to seek opportunities,” she says. “My grandparents weren’t educated. They were working hands, working the land, being domestics. My parents were first generation college students. And, they were the only ones of their siblings that went to college.”


“We are more than a museum. We want every aspect of what we do to help young people see ways to excel. We use every aspect to grasp, enjoy and sneak in history in a non-threatening way for them. People feel better when they have something of their own they can claim. It gives them a sense of pride and belonging and responsibility,” Sericia affirms. “Our programs (at MTCC) do that. I want my kids and all kids to understand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s as well as others’ legacies and the responsibility of being of service to others and the community,” she says.

The History of Arkansas’ Museum of African-American History


The Mosaic Templars of America was an African-American fraternal organization founded in Little Rock in 1882 by two former slaves, John E. Bush and Chester W. Keatts. It was established to provide important services that did not exist for the African-American community, such as burial and life insurance. Bush and Keatts experienced great success, expanding operations to include a newspaper, hospital, and building and loan association.

The organization attracted thousands of members and built a complex of three buildings at the corner of West Ninth Street and Broadway. All were completed by 1921. Although the business was devastated during the economic strife of the 1930s, the entrepreneurial spirit of Bush and Keatts, as well as other African-American business minds, stood as shining examples to future black entrepreneurs in Arkansas and elsewhere.

(Photo taken in 1924 courtesy of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System. Modern photo courtesy of the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.)

Little Rock’s West Ninth Street was a social center and economic hub of the African-American community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There were physicians, pharmacists, barbershops, jewelers, restaurants, hotels and more. There were several churches and community gathering places. The Dreamland Ballroom in Taborian Hall held graduations, basketball games, dances and musical performances.

Though businesses declined during the Great Depression, World War II renewed growth and activity. However, urban renewal, highway construction and city landscape changes impacted the decline in the 1960s.

“Starting in the 90s, there was a grass roots effort by historians to save the Mosaic Templars structure at 9th and Broadway,” explains Sericia. “They lobbied to save the building. The city purchased the property and sold it to the state. The Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus proposed legislation to build the museum. It would be the only publicly-funded black museum in Arkansas.”

Efforts continued to bring the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center to fruition. “In 2005, two homeless men set a warming fire on the third floor and tragically the building burned. Governor Huckabee approved $212 million to rebuild. The new building opened September 19, 2008. It’s almost an exact replica of the original Mosaic Templars structure,” she states. “The museum is for and by and about African-Americans and our state’s history.”

What’s Happening at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center? Check it out!

  • “Freedom! Oh, Freedom!” Arkansas’ People of African Descent and the Civil War: 1861-1866 exhibit
  • The Creativity Arkansas collection of visual arts
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit exhibit
  • The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame
  • Artifacts, resources and research opportunities
  • Tours, workshops, summer camps
  • Juneteenth community-wide program
  • Auditorium available for rent
  • An INCREDIBLE Museum Store

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center: A Museum of African-American History
An agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage
501 West Ninth Street, Little Rock
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.–Sat.
FREE admission

How to Have a Killer Super Bowl Sunday


Whether you plan on watching the game in the judgement-free zone of your own couch with close friends or meeting the gang elsewhere to enjoy the fun in your favorite public hangout, we've got you covered here. 

Where to Watch the Game

Gusano's Pizzeria: This River Market sports bar is the place to be on Sunday. Lost Forty Brewing is taking over the tap, so grab a Chicago-style slice while watching the Seahawks and Patriots battle it out on one of the restaurants 21 TVs, including 3 big screens. Whoa.

Big Whiskey’s: The modern grill pub in the River Market is serving up a few game day specials including $2 draft beers. It also offer up its usual burgers, steaks, soups and salads, but the best part? So. Many. Flat screens.

Dugan's Pub: The Irish pub offers a ton of classic bar favorites, plus Irish items like fish and chips. The bar, on the corner of 3rd and Rock Street, is lined with TVs and has an awesome atmosphere for game watching with friends. Stop by and enjoy $2.50 drafts, $7.50 wings, Jello shots and more while you watch the game.

West End Smokehouse & Tavern: With more than 50 TVs and two overized screens, you can catch all angles of the Super Bowl at this local favorite. The menu has a variety of burgers, pizza, steaks and typical bar food. Take a break with pool tables, darts, shuffleboard and arcade games, or stay glued to the screens. Your call.


Ready for Pick Up

Colonial Wines & Spirits: You've got to wash down all that food with something, right? Not only can the crew at Colonial tell what drinks go best with that bean dip, but they've even created special cocktails for game day: the Cape Cod for the Patriots fan and the Washington Apple for the Seahawk fan. For these recipes and more, click here.

Brown Sugar Bakeshop: If you have a sweet tooth, this is the place to stop. You can find all sorts of sugary treats in your team's colors, including red velvet brownies (WHAT). Don't even want to leave home? No biggie. Chef Shuttle now delivers BSB sweets right to your door.

Whole Foods Market: Take a healthier approach to your gameday festivities and pick up organic lightly salted tortilla chips and a variety of non-GMO project verified salsa in a variety of flavors including peach and mango, roasted pablano and roasted verde. Click here for more game day grub information. 


Delicious DIYs

More interested in making your own morsels? Check out our list of the top 5 game-changing snacks to whip up in your kitchen. Spoiler alert: The Capital's pimento cheese may or may not (but definitely did) make the list. Click here for more, and trust us, you want more.

Saints & Sinners Auction Preview

On Saturday night, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s largest annual fundraiser, Saints and Sinners, will hit the Statehouse Convention Center's Wally Allen Ballroom once again. 

This year, the gala is co-chaired by Marla Johnson and James Norris and emceed by KTHV Channel 11’s Craig O’Neill. The night consists of great food and cocktails, live and silent auctions and entertainment only The Rep could provide. 

Although a performance by The Rep is not easily rivaled, the theater is seriously stepping up their auction game with a slew of incredible items up for grabs. They're also using the online bidding system BidPal, more info on that here.

But right now, we just want to daydream about these prizes, so don't mind us if our eyes get a little glossy. See for yourself. 


You're currently looking at a fishing and outdoor gear gift package from the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arnaksas Nature Center, diamonds and pearls from Sissy's Log Cabin, Dj G-Force, a hand-woven wool Persian rug from HADIDI Rug & Design Gallery and a week in a villa in Puerto Vallarta.

And that's just the beginning. We also heard rumours about a trip to New York, but you'll have to check it out for yourself.

If you’re interested in purchasing tickets or sponsoring tables, contact Ronda Lewis at (501) 378-0445, ext. 203 or rlewis@therep.or, on The Rep’s website.

Otherwise, we'll see you there. #HeySoiree

Capital Bar & Grill to Host Charleville Beer Dinner

Image by Dustin Nevill


If it only takes one course for a meal to be delicious, just imagine a five-course dinner paired with specialty brews from a micro brewery tucked away in the Ozark Mountains.

Nope, it’s not a dream.

The Capital Bar and Grill is hosting exactly that with the help of Charleville Brewing Company on Tuesday, Feb. 3, from 5:30-8 p.m. If guests have any questions as the night progresses, Charleville’s owner and brewer, Tait Russell, will be there to put your mind at ease.

We know you’re really just waiting for the menu. That’s ok. Feast your eyes.


Brew: Half-Wit Wheat

Bite: Cornmeal dusted catfish dumplings with a tarragon and corn mash, serrano pepper gastrique and mustard green crisps 


Brew: Ale Mucho Hoppo

Bite: Pecan-rubbed, smoked beef brisket with apple and blue cheese coleslaw and sourdough puree


Brew: Box of Chocolates

Bite: Pork trotter tamales with ancho chile chocolate gravy and pickled blueberries


Brew: Tornado Alley

Bite: Grilled whole-grain bread, Humboldt Fog pimento cheese, boar sausage and Arkansas black apples


Brew: Barleywine

Bite: Chocolate and orange tart with caramelized spiced orange and hazelnut/barleywine ice cream


Tickets are $55 a piece. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

5 Events for Weekend Fun: Symphony, Health Fair and More

Image by evantravels /

The Whirling Dervishes performing in Istanbul; the Turkish cultural experience will visit Little Rock on Jan. 31.


With this week's blue skies and spring-like temperatures, we've completely forgotten about our winter blues! And we can't wait to enjoy a weekend full of family fun, which includes performances by young violin Virtuoso Randall Goosby, a cultural experience with the Whirling Dervishes of Rumi, and a free health fair at McCain Mall.

ASO Masterworks Series Presents: Tchaikovsky & Mozart Festival at Maumelle Performing Arts Center: Young violin virtuoso and Memphis native Randall Goosby performs with the ASO for Mozart's Concerto for Violin in A Major. Also on the program are Polonaise from Eugene Onegin and Symphony No. 4 by Tchaikovsky. Goosby has studied under Itzhak Perlman and is currently pursuing his degree at Julliard School of Music in New York. Guest conductor Vladimir Verbitsky will be at the baton for both festival performances. $19-$58; children are admitted free for the Sunday show with one paid adult admission an an Entergy Kids Ticket. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 & 3 p.m. Feb. 1. For info: (501) 666-1761,

Whirling Dervishes of Rumi Present Sufi Music Concert at Albert Pike Memorial Center: Based on  Turkish customs and culture, this show is a cultural experience for Arkansans. The audience will learn about Mawlana Jalaleddin Rumi, a spiritual master and poet in the 1200s, and the group that was founded to follow his teachings. The Whirling Dervishes were influential in poetry, calligraphy, visual arts and music from the 14th to the 20th century. Then, you'll be treated to traditional Sufi music and the whirling dervish ceremony. $25, students are $10. 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31. For info: (501) 221-3443, or click here.

McCain Mall Health Fair: Local physicians, specialists, and other healthcare providers will be on hand to offer advice and answer questions on a variety of health related topics. Participants will include nutritionists, fitness experts, massage therapists, insurance agents and many more. Heart attack risk assessments will be conducted until noon. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 31. For info: FREE!

"Rumpelstiltskin" at the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre: "Rumpelstiltskin" is the newest musical to hit the stage at the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre. Based on the German tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, the children's story is adapted for the stage by Keith Smith. Playgoers will recognize the familiar plot line about a sneaky dwarf and a girl who lies to the king about her ability to spin straw into gold. The magical dwarf promises to help the girl, but for a price. In the end, the girl must guess his strange name or else give the dwarf her first child. $12.50 for children and adults & $10 for AAC members. Showtimes are: 7 p.m. Fridays & 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 8. For info: (501) 372-4000,

Build it Lab Workshops at Museum of Discovery: In partnership with AGC Arkansas, Home Depot and University of Arkansas at Little Rock, this workshop series will engage youngsters in activities related to home-building: framing, waterproofing, plumbing, wiring, roofing, soundproofing and painting. Plus, visitors can watch as students from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Construction Management program build a playhouse to be donated to a school. Each Saturday will focus on a different phase of construction: Exterior Finish (Jan. 31); Wiring & Roofing (Feb. 7); Interior Finishing (Feb. 14); and Painting (Feb. 21). The workshops will be from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each Saturday through Feb. 21. Activities are included with regular museum admission: $10, children ages 1-12 $8, children under 1 free. For info:

For more weekend events, browse our full online calendar here.

Arkansas Engagement: Taylor Stanford & Ryan James

Gallery by Tyler Rosenthal Photography


Little Rock couple Taylor Stanford and Ryan James are engaged! This fabulous couple will tie the knot on May 30 at the First Baptist Church in Benton.

We just love this super cute duo (look how happy they are!) and their engagement story. We featured their proposal last summer, and this engagement session from Tyler Rosenthal is just icing on the wedding cake! Here's what Taylor had to say:

Ryan and I first met in the science department at Ouachita Baptist University. He sat behind me in Physics and would “accidentally” kick my feet from time to time. I never knew that Ryan was interested in me until he asked if I could help him study before a test coming up… and I was terrible at physics. To ask me on our first date he mailed a box full of popcorn with a baseball buried in it with all the details of our night written on it, starting with a Travelers game. I was hooked.

After we graduated from college, we started talking more and more about getting married, but we still didn’t have a set timeline because we both have quite a bit of school ahead of us. I was in my first year of pharmacy school and Ryan had just been accepted into medical school at UAMS. After dating for almost 3 years, we knew we couldn't wait for the dust of medical/pharmacy school to settle before we began our lives as Mr. and Mrs. James!

I was under the impression that we would get engaged sometime in the fall of this year, but on May 26, 2014, Ryan surprised me with the sweetest proposal I could ever imagine. My dad and I love to take walks together, so Ryan had it set up to where my dad and I would take a walk through Wildwood Park. At the end of this walk, Ryan was waiting on me at the beautiful gazebo overlooking the pond, where he eventually got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Of course all of our family was hiding in the bushes to celebrate with us afterwards!

Congratulations, Taylor and Ryan!


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Weekend To-Do List: 11 Events to Check Out


We know Sunday is a big day for most of you for unspecified reasons, but that doesn't mean the rest of your weekend can't be spectacular as well. Here's how to make that a reality. 


Saturday (Jan. 31)

Cosmic CSI! Galaxy Transformations within the Virgo Cluster at The Innovation Hub, 201 E. Broadway St., North Little Rock: Anne Abramson is an astronomy Ph.D. candidate from Yale who has been making waves in the story of galactic gas-stripping. Sit in on the native Arkansan's presentation to learn about the lives of stars and galaxies in layman's terms. No Ph.D. in astronomy required. The presentation starts at 4 p.m. For more information, click here.

The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi and Sufi Music Concert at the Albert Pike Memorial Center, 712 Scott St., Little Rock: Presented by the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, don't miss this "highly cultural and spiritual celebration of existence." Audiences will catch a glimpse of the 800 years of cultural tradition. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information, click here.

Saints and Sinners Gala at the Statehouse Convention Center, 101 E. Markham St., Little Rock: The Arkansas Repertory Theatre's annual black tie event is their largest fundraiser and arguably the most fun. A night of great food and cocktails, live and silent auctions and entertainment only The Rep could provide awaiting guests. The fun starts at 6 p.m. For more information, click here.


Friday & Saturday (Jan. 30 & 31)

Planet Spring Collection Trunk Show at Beyond Cotton, 107000 Rodney Parham Rd., Little Rock: Check out the exclusive offerings from Planet's 2015 Spring lineup and customize your look. There will be giveaways at the trunk show, too, so you'll definitely want to be there. For more information, click here.

"Frost Bite Me" at The Joint Theater, 301 Main St., North Little Rock: Stop by The Joint and get your dose of The Main Thing. They've got a show full of sketch comedy and parodies, including an original piece about Sherwood, Arkansas’ number one private eye. Plus, The Joint has plenty of food and drink to make the night even better. The show starts at 8 p.m. both nights. For more information, click here


Sunday (Feb. 1)

HeART of the Bar at South on Main, 1304 S. Main St., Little Rock: This "handmade holiday market" showcases the wares of a dozen Arkansas artisans at this free event. You’ll also be able to get your hands on special cocktails and Valentine treats, and even crash a photo booth. The market was moved up to noon-6 p.m. so you can still enjoy the game. For more information, click here.


Saturday & Sunday (Jan. 31 & Feb. 1)

Tchaikovsky & Mozart Festival at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center, 100 Victory Lane, Maumelle: As the fourth part in the ASO's Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, this concert will be under the direction of guest conductor Vladimir Verbitsy, and will feature college freshman and Carnegie Hall veteran violinist Randall Goosby. The show is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, click here

Gege Thalheimer's Benefit Estate Sale at the Colony West Shopping Center, 10300 Rodney Parham Rd., Little Rock: Celebrate the life of the late Gege Thalheimer and her legacy of philanthropy by shopping her estate sale benefitting Our House, Just Communities of Arkansas and the Jewish Federation of Arkansas. Visitors will find tons of designer items including Chanel, Gucci, Valentino and more. Hours are 6:30-9 p.m. Saturday and 1:30-6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, click here.


Thursday-Sunday (Jan. 29 - Feb. 1)

"The Whipping Man" at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 601 Main St., Little Rock: In The Rep’s latest upcoming production, a jewish Confederate officer and his two former slaves remain, Simon and John. The three are left in the ruins of their hometown, forced to learn how to live in a post-slavery world. What unfolds as they wait for their loved ones’ return is full of pain, faith, horror, strength and secrets. Check out our review of "The Whipping Man" here. For more information, click here.

Art in the Park UALR Exhibit at Wildwood Park for the Arts, 20919 Denny Road, Little Rock: Come out and enjoy the newest exhibit in the Art at the Park lineup. The show includes work from students, faculty and alumni from UALR in a variety of mixed media. The exhibit is open on weekdays from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and on weekends from noon- 4 p.m.. For more information, click here.

Charles Schulz exhibits at The Clinton Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock: Snoopy gets the presidential treatment as the Center celebrates 65th anniversary of Charles Schulz’s famous pup and the rest of the crew with their newest exhibits, “Pigskin & Peanuts” and “Heartbreak in Peanuts.” The Center is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1-5 p.m. For more information, click here.

Tagged > jazz, Anne Abramson, gas-stripping, Whirling Dervishes, Albert Pike Memorial Center, Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, gala, comedy sketch, Vladimir Verbitsy, Randall Goosby, review, UALR, The Clinton Center, Peanuts, ASO, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Peter Martin and Romero Lubambo, South on Main, oxford american, The Innovation Hub, astronomy, Saints & Sinners, Saints and Sinners, The Rep, Arkansas Repertory Theatre , Frost Bite Me, The Joint, The Main Thing, heART of the Bar, Valentine's Day, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Maumelle Performing Arts Center, "The Whipping Man", The Whipping Man, Art in the Park, Wildwood Park for the Arts, Charles Schulz, clinton presidential center, Snoopy, Heartbreak in Peanuts, Pigskin & Peanuts, Soirée weekend to-do list, to-do list, Weekend to-do list, Gege Thalheimer, Our House, Just Communities of Arkansas, Jewish Federation of Arkansas, Planet, beyond cotton, trunk show

The Pizzeria at Terry's Now Open for Lunch

Image by Steve Shuler


Praise the pizza gods. The Pizzeria at Terry’s Finer Foods is now open for lunch. 

Formerly Pizzeria Santa Lucia, the restaurant has been serving up unbelievable Neapolitan pies since they opened in the space adjoining The Heights’ oldest grocery store last October.

You’ll find calzones, fresh salads, sweet treats and plenty of libations to go along with the wood fire-baked pizzas. And now you can find them during lunch hours, too. The Pizzeria at Terry’s will open at 11 a.m., except for Sunday and Monday, the days the shop is closed.

There’s a reason we named The Pizzeria at Terry’s as one of our 11 New Culinary Destinations in 2015. Stop by for a lunchtime slice at 5018 Kavanaugh Blvd. to find out for yourself.

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About The Author
What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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