Posted 13 Jun 2017
A free screening of the Arkansas Educational Television Network's documentary 'Dream Land: Little Rock's West 9th Street' will be held at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center's Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom Saturday, June 17, at 2 p.m. The screening will be held in the third floor ballroom of the center at 501 West 9th Street, Little Rock.
Little Rock, Arkansas's, West 9th Street was once a vibrant, African-American business and entertainment district and home to Taborian Hall and the Dreamland Ballroom. 'Dream Land: Little Rock's West 9th Street' explores the street's glory days and how Urban Renewal, the Eisenhower Interstate Program and more influenced its future.
'West 9th Street and the Dreamland Ballroom have patiently waited for their story to unfold so new audiences can connect to their historical past and unknown future,' AETN Producer Tanisha Joe Conway said. 'Director Gabe Mayhan and I are excited and humbled to be a part of telling this history that has definite similarities to other streets and communities in Arkansas and across the country.'
Told by local residents and historians, 'Dream Land' seeks to recognize, memorialize and share the significant past of the once thriving West 9th Street.
Taborian Hall, the only remaining historic structure on the street, stands as a living witness of the community's former grandeur. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Taborian Hall housed varied and important black businesses, including professional offices, a USO, the Gem Pharmacy and the Dreamland Ballroom.
By the 1930s, Dreamland Ballroom was host to musicians, dances, socials, concerts and sporting events and was firmly established as a stop on the 'Chitlin Circuit,' which showcased regional and national African-American bands and stage shows.
The impact of federal programs such as Urban Renewal, school desegregation, the Housing Act of 1949 and the Eisenhower Interstate Program are also explored.
Though little remains of the street's former glory, viewers will be taken on a historical journey from the late 1800s to today. To help bring the Dreamland Ballroom back to life, the documentary features special reenactments by Rodney Block and The Real Music Lovers, Bijoux, Detroit Johnny, Jazz R Us and dancers from the Tidwell Project, among others. A stroll down West 9th Street shows what remains today.
Major funding for the film was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and The Moving Image Trust Fund. Additional information is available at aetn.org/dreamland.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. As part of the local Juneteenth celebration, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center hosts a daylong event featuring activities, vendors, food and entertainment for the entire community.
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage dedicated to Arkansas' African-American history and culture, including keeping alive the legacy of the Mosaic Templars of America, as well as the historic West Ninth Street District. MTCC was founded as the Mosaic Templars of America Center for African-American Culture and Business Enterprise under Act 1176 of 2001.
The Arkansas Educational Television Network is Arkansas's only statewide public media network, which enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through the distinct channels AETN PBS, AETN Create, AETN PBS KIDS, AETN World and AETN AIRS on SAP. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at aetn.org. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).