FBT Bank & Mortgage (FBT) recently awarded $4,500 in cash and prizes through its Simply Artful Celebration of Black History Month Arts Contest. Students at White Hall and Pine Bluff were among winners.


In its third year, the contest received more than 100 student entries featuring African American inventors and their significant contributions to the state, nation and world, according to a news release.


Tahiya Sorker, a student at Taylor Elementary School at White Hall School District, won for her work celebrating the life of Jan Ernst Matzeliger. He was best known for his patent of a shoe lasting machine that increased the availability of shoes and decreased the price of footwear, according to the release.


Sorker’s art consisted of photography and a hand-written essay. Craig Attwood, executive vice president of FBT Jefferson County, and Joni Alexander, FBT Jefferson County outreach director, presented cash awards of $250 to Sorker and $1,250 to Taylor Elementary.


Antayvia Leondra Cole, a student at 34th Avenue Elementary School in the Pine Bluff School District, won for her work celebrating the accomplishments of Madam CJ Walker. Walker was one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire. She developed and marketed a line of cosmetics and hair care products for African Americans and eventually established the Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories.


Cole’s art used clay and toothpicks to create a pressing comb and hair brush and fruit cups to recreate hair pomades. Alexander presented cash awards of $250 to Antayvia and $1,250 to 34th Avenue.


“While we take February to recognize black history, we hope what students have learned this month provides the catalyst for appreciation of all ethnicities and cultures,” said Jim Hulse, FBT president and CEO. “We’re excited to bring back Simply Artful to our communities and partner with schools to enrich the education of local students.”


Fifth grade students in Fordyce, Pine Bluff, Rison/Woodlawn, and White Hall were eligible to enter, and a judging panel determined the final winners.


Students who submitted entries received a Simply Artful T-shirt and drawstring bag, and the winning student’s class also received a pizza party. Submissions included drawings, paintings, photographs, mixed media artwork, sculptures and essays.