The history and experience of the African American people in Arkansas, much like in the rest of the United States, is a long, storied, and tumultuous one. And it is this exact history that the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, located in Little Rock a few blocks south of the Mississippi River, is dedicated to preserving and telling.
Just under a century and a half ago, in 1883, the Mosaic Templars of America, for which the center is named, were formed in this same Arkansas capital. Founded by a pair of former slaves, the Mosaic Templars were created with the vision of uniting black Americans across all professions in a single fraternal order that would provide community and support.
Sadly, like so many other business and orders in the United States, the Mosaic Templars would ultimately fold during the crippling Great Depression. Its legacy, however, would live on for decades; and in 2001, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center would be founded, and named in its honor.
At the MTCC, visitors can fully immerse themselves in well over a century of history of the black community of Little Rock, learning first-hand how it has shaped the city around it. Exhibitions tell the tale of the discrimination faced by the African American community in post-emancipation America; how, in spite of all this, the black Americans of Little Rock carved out their own corner of the city; and how their entrepreneurial spirit flourishing in spite of the prejudice and legal restrictions they faced in the era of Jim Crow laws. Brotherhood and the Bottom Line tells the story of the (short-lived, but, for many of its members, life-changing) Mosaic Templar brotherhood that gave the center its name; and the Black Hall of Fame honors and commemorates some of the most essential and iconic individuals in the local African American community.
America prides itself on being one of the most culturally diverse nations on Earth; thus, to truly understand the growth and history of any US city, one needs to fully build one’s knowledge of each and every one of its demographics and communities. For Little Rock visitors wishing to truly deepen their knowledge of what made the Arkansas capital into the unique community that it is today, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center offers an invaluable opportunity to see the city from the perspective of its African American citizens, who, in the face of hardship and discrimination, made a part of the city all their own.