Bush, John

John Edward Bush, a chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas, rose from poverty to national prominence when he co-founded the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), an African-American fraternal organization of international scope, spanning twenty-six states and six foreign countries from the 1880s until the 1930s. Headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), MTA became one of the largest and most successful black-owned business enterprises in the nation and the world; it included an insurance company, a building and loan association, a hospital, a business college, a publishing house, and a nursing school. Living most of his early life in the downtown 9th Street district of Little Rock, Bush was widely acknowledged as one of the wealthiest black men in Arkansas …

Grice, Geleve

Capturing some of the most powerful aspects of African-American life from the mundane to the sublime, Geleve Grice established himself as Arkansas’s most prolific photographer for more than six decades. From his studio in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Grice produced thousands of photographs over the years for a variety of special occasions, including weddings, funerals, and school graduations. Although some of his more high profile photographs were featured in national publications, the heart of Grice’s work highlighted the common people and events of southeast Arkansas. Geleve Grice was born on January 16, 1922, in Tamo (Jefferson County), a small farming town located fifteen miles from Pine Bluff. At the age of thirteen, Grice moved with his parents, Toy and Lillie, …

Arkansas Health Center

The Arkansas Health Center (AHC), located in Benton (Saline County), is a 310-bed nursing facility licensed and regulated by the Office of Long Term Care. AHC is the largest nursing home—and the only state-operated nursing facility—in Arkansas. With more than 550 employees, AHC provides nursing home care to Arkansans with special medical and behavioral needs that are not generally met through traditional nursing facilities. AHC houses specialty units to treat individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, those with behavioral or psychiatric disorders, and those who are ventilator dependent for survival. AHC takes a holistic approach to healthcare, treating both the physical and psychiatric health concerns of the residents while also focusing on spiritual needs. Services available …

Arkansas State Hospital

The Arkansas State Hospital is the only state-owned and -operated facility for the treatment of mental illness in Arkansas. The structure, function, and name of this facility have changed with the development of new technology and more progressive views for treating individuals suffering from mental illness, epilepsy, birth defects, learning disabilities, and the effects of old age. The Arkansas Lunatic Asylum was created by legislative act in 1873. In 1905, the name was changed to Arkansas State Hospital for Nervous Diseases; it was changed to Arkansas State Hospital in 1933. A facility known as the State Hospital still exists today, but what was historically encompassed by the “State Hospital” is now part of the Division of Behavioral Health Services of …

Mental Health

Prior to the opening of the Arkansas Lunatic Asylum (now the Arkansas State Hospital) in 1883, mentally ill Arkansans were cared for by their families or housed in jails, prisons, or poor farms. Since 1883, the Arkansas State Hospital (ASH) has been responsible for the treatment of thousands of Arkansans with a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses such as depression and schizophrenia. In the 1950s, the hospital’s census peaked at 5,086 patients. Since that time, the deinstitutionalization movement and advances in psychotropic medications have resulted in dramatically lower inpatient numbers. The current (as of 2010) ASH capacity of 234 beds represents a deinstitutionalization rate of 97.5% for the state. Most patients are admitted through a screening process conducted by the …

Mosaic Templars of America

The Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), an African American fraternal organization offering mutual aid to the black community, was founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1882 and incorporated in 1883 by two former slaves, John Edward Bush and Chester W. Keatts. Taking its name from the biblical character of Moses, the organization offered illness, death, and burial insurance to African Americans at a time when white insurers refused to treat black customers equally. The name metaphorically linked the organization’s services to African Americans and the oppressive conditions of the Jim Crow South to Moses’s leadership during the Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. At its peak in the 1920s, the organization had an estimated …

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