African American Perspectives Northeast Arkansas
The quarterly African American Perspectives Northeast Arkansas magazine was established in Jonesboro (Craighead County) in 2007 by Diversified Publishing Company, LLC. Founding members of the publishing group included Drs. Lonnie R. Williams, George Grant, and Glen Jones, who were administrators at Arkansas State University (ASU), and community leaders, Everett Fair and Emma Agnew. Agnew served as editor for the first five years until Williams assumed a co-editing role during the last two years of publication, 2011–2013.
Four seasonal issues were published each year, and content consisted of feature articles from various contributing writers as well as advertising. Standing columns included an African-American business directory, church directory, and calendar of events.
According to its vision statement, Perspectives was created to uplift and promote the African-American spirit by providing relevant information for the soul, body, and mind. As such, the magazine sought to better connect African Americans with each other and the larger community by serving as a conduit for continuous dialogue and information sharing. The magazine’s reach spanned beyond northeastern Arkansas to include subscribers as far away as California. It had a circulation of about 4,000 copies per issue.
Each issue focused on a theme, which determined whom the staff would invite to contribute articles. The inaugural issue, Winter 2007, addressed faith and was released in January of that year. It debuted with the feature profile, “The Lewellens of Jonesboro,” that paid tribute to the Reverend Herman L. Lewellen and his wife, Mildred King Lewellen. Before retiring, the couple had served as pastor and first lady of the majority-black First Baptist Church in Jonesboro for thirty-five years. The following excerpt captures how Perspectives viewed the Lewellens: “The Lewellens fought untiringly to remedy injustice, discrimination, and violations of dignity and welfare of people.”
According to Williams, one of the biggest moments in the magazine’s existence was the election of President Barack Obama. The Winter 2009 issue featured the article “The Triumph of Hope,” written by Judge Wendell L. Griffen. He wrote, “We have elected someone who knows how to lead and how to treat people with respect, and how to embrace differences rather than use them for fear-mongering.” Another memorable issue was Winter 2013, which included articles celebrating lesser-known black historical figures from Arkansas, including Samuel P. Massie Jr., a chemist who developed drugs to treat life-threatening illnesses such as malaria and cancer; Samuel Lee Kountz Jr., the physician who performed the first kidney transplant between persons who were not identical twins; and the Reverend Percell Perkins, a gospel recording legend.
Perspectives ceased publishing with the Spring 2013 issue. By then, a total of twenty-six issues had been published since it began publication in 2007.
For additional information:
African American Perspectives Northeast Arkansas. Jonesboro, AR: Diversified Publishing Company, 2007–2013.
Lillie M. Fears
Arkansas State University
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