Saturday, May 28, 2011

Annie McDaniel Abrams In Anchorage - With Video

I got a chance to talk with Annie McDaniel Abrams today while she's in Anchorage for the Neighborhoods USA conference here.  I imagine there are a lot of people in Alaska who have no idea who she is.  In Arkansas, it's a different story.  She's been a force of nature there for almost 80 years. 

Annie M. Abrams was born September 25, 1931 [she told me she's going to be 80 this year, so I don't think I'm posting anything she wouldn't tell you herself] in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Because of limited educational opportunities for African-Americans in this small rural town she moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she finished Dunbar High School, Dunbar Junior College, and Philander Smith College.

Her years of grassroots level activism and civic connections with historical personalities from around the world has made her an Icon in her own right. She has been interviewed by hundreds of local and national media outlets because of her reservoir of historical knowledge of many subjects and her outstanding community service. Ms. Abrams’ boundless energy and commitment for her cause in fighting for justice has caused her advice to be sought by candidates at every level of government. For many years she has also been a much sought after speaker for programs and conventions. For four years Mrs. Abrams hosted her own television show, State Press in Review. .  .
 When I asked about the integration of Little Rock's Central High, she told me that she had been the first black PTA President of Central High. 

Here's a bit of video of our conversation to give you a sense of how she thinks and expresses herself.  You can just imagine her cornering Governor Clinton and letting him know what was on her mind.

A website with a petition to change Little Rock's 18th Street to Miss Annie Abrams Street tells us:
Ms. Abrams has been a very active and vital part of the Arkansas Development. 
In an illustrated history of signal African-American events in the past half century, one person would be always in the picture: Ms. Annie Mable McDaniel Abrams.

She'd be by Daisy Bates' side in a tableau of the 1957 crisis. Presenting Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller a gift of buttermilk in 1971. In Little Rock's Martin Luther King Marade, which she founded in 1986. Whispering into Bill Clinton's ear, as she was in an Associated Press photograph. Whispering into Blanche Lincoln's ear, in another. And Gov. Mike Beebe's, in a third. . .
Sometimes you're just lucky, and I was today, because I got to meet living history, and we had a good time together.   Thanks P for the invite.

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