The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation (ABHOF) will induct six people into the Hall of Fame at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. At least two honorees are from Southeast Arkansas.
The 27th annual ceremony will be held at the Robinson Center Performance Hall at Little Rock. In the style of the Kennedy Center Honors, the ceremony will feature music and dance performances while honoring Arkansans for their exceptional achievements, according to a news release.
Honorees are state Sen. Irma Hunter Brown, trail-blazing public servant and educator; Wallace “Wali” Reed Caradine (posthumous), architect and businessman; John Donley, award-winning television writer and executive; Edward “Coach Ed” Johnson, celebrated youth football coach; Kristin Lewis, operatic soprano; and Roscoe Robinson, gospel and R&B musical artist.
Through the years, some inductees have had connections with Southeast Arkansas such as Gould native John Donley and Roscoe Robinson from Dermott.
JOHN DONLEY — “Donley is an award-winning television writer and creative entrepreneur whose presence in the industry can be seen in his work as a writer, producer, and executive,” according to his biography at http://arblackhalloffame.org/
“He originally studied acting after a stint in the military but soon discovered the market for black actors was very limited, so he turned to script writing. He received his first recognition as a writer when he sold the script ‘Black Jesus’ to CBS for the sitcom ‘Good Times.’ Some of his writing credits include hit shows like ‘Diff’rent Strokes,’ ‘Who’s the Boss,’ ‘Benson,’ ‘Sanford and Son,’ and ‘The Jeffersons’.”
Donley also worked with artists such as Sinbad, Curtis Mayfield and Bill Cosby. Donley has done work for television networks ABC and CBS.
“He struck a developmental deal with Universal Studios, formed his own production company, and created and produced ‘The Comedy Game Show’ starring Mother Love. He received an NAACP Image Award as the writer for an episode of ‘Diff’rent Strokes,’” the biography said. “Mr. Donley was born in Gould, Arkansas, and today makes his home in Los Angeles. His community service endeavors include teaching writing classes for underprivileged youths.”
ROSCOE ROBINSON — Inductee Roscoe Robinson is a 91-year-old recording artist from Dermott, according to his biography at http://arblackhalloffame.org/
“His career spans several decades and has brought him acclaim in both the gospel and R&B genres. He began as a gospel singer and songwriter,” according to the biography. “He performed with such noted gospel groups as the Highway QC’s, The Fairfield Four, the Blind Boys of Mississippi, and the Blind Boys of Alabama.”
Robinson worked with such artists such as the late Sam Cooke and the late Bobby Womack.
“Robinson was as good a secular artist as he was a gospel artist, so between the 1960s and the 1980s, he delved into the Rhythm and Blues arena. He left his mark on R&B with several chart-making hits. To celebrate his 90th birthday in May 2018, a New York record company simultaneously released two songs from Robinson, a gospel recording and an R&B recording. Roscoe Robinson has made his home in Birmingham, Alabama, for nearly 50 years,” according to the biography.
Proceeds from the ceremony will benefit the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation, which, since 2004, has awarded more than $650,000 in grants to organizations that serve African-Americans and underserved communities throughout the state, according to the news release.
“Our 2019 inductees continue the tradition of showcasing the tremendous talent that Arkansas produces,” Charles Stewart, ABHOF chairman, said recently in the release. “The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation is thrilled to honor their achievements and once again put the best that our state has to offer on display.”
“The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation, in its 27th year, aims to provide an environment in which future generations of African-American achievers with Arkansas roots will thrive and succeed. The foundation honors the contributions of African-Americans through its annual Arkansas Black Hall of Fame induction ceremony and awards grants to support charitable endeavors in the black community,” according to the release.
“Throughout its history, the foundation has sought to correct the omissions of history and to remind the world that black history is a significant part of American history. The book, Seeds of Genius: 25 Years of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, celebrates the first 25 years of the inductees into the Hall of Fame,” according to the release.
For details or ticket information, visit http://arblackhalloffame.org/