Our Honorees

Some of the country's greatest inventors, doctors, authors, and performers are African American, and several of them have ties to Arkansas. For 27 years, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame has recognized many of these outstanding individuals. Our inductees have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields of endeavor, and we are proud to acknowledge them and their contributions to African-American culture, the state of Arkansas and the nation.

Class of 2019

Join us in celebrating the 2019 class of Arkansas Black Hall of Fame inductees!

  • Senator Irma Hunter Brown
  • Mr. Wallace “Wali” Caradine
  • Mr. John Donley
  • Coach Ed Johnson
  • Ms. Kristin Lewis
  • Mr. Roscoe Robinson
  • Senator Irma Hunter Brown

    Trailblazing Legislative Leader

    Class of 2019

    Inductee Senator Irma Hunter Brown served 24 years in the Arkansas Legislature as the first African-American woman to have been elected to both the Arkansas House of Representatives and to the Arkansas Senate. Her work in the legislature is expansive and impressive, in that she championed many causes that have impacted the community, the city and the state. Senator Brown chaired several committees and received countless awards and recognitions for her tireless work. By trade, she is an educator; by nature, she is a change-agent. She currently serves as president of the Friends of Haven of Rest Cemetery, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the condition and appearance of the cemetery, which is a historically and predominantly black development and the final resting place of several historic African-American Arkansans.

    Senator Brown is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; a life member of the Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Inc.; and a member of Union African Methodist Episcopal Church. She has been the wife of Dr. Roosevelt Brown for the past 56 years; they live in Little Rock.

    Photo of Brown
  • Mr. Wallace “Wali” Caradine

    Pioneering Architect, Contractor & Business Leader

    Class of 2019

    Posthumous Inductee Wallace “Wali” Reed Caradine (1949-2017) was the first African American graduate from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, after which he received further training at the Construction Management Institute in Dallas. During the course of his illustrious career, Wali Caradine made significant contributions to the fields of design and construction through his work with a firm in West Memphis and his own businesses, Design and Construction Associates, which became one of the largest minority-owned contracting firms in the state; Woods Caradine Architects; and Caradine Companies Architecture from 2007-2016. Caradine’s footprint can be seen in such impressive structures as The William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library, Verizon (formerly Alltel) Arena, the Arkansas Statehouse Convention Center expansion, multiple projects on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Little Rock Job Corps Campus, the University of Central Arkansas’ Greek Village, the Centre at University Park Adult Leisure Center, the Pathfinder Complex in Jacksonville, and countless other buildings. He was a mentor to several minority contractors in the Central Arkansas area, and as a tool to further his mentorship and to promote networking among local industry professionals, he founded the Arkansas Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors in 1986. Wali was a husband to Dr. Delbra Caradine and father to a son, Reed Caradine, and a daughter, Ashley Caradine.

    Photo of Caradine
  • Mr. John Donley

    Award-winning Screenwriter and Television Producer

    Class of 2019

    Inductee John Donley is an award-winning television writer and creative entrepreneur whose presence in the industry can be seen in his work as a writer, producer, and executive. He originally studied acting after a stint in the military but soon discovered the market for black actors was very limited, so he turned to scriptwriting. He received his first recognition as a writer when he sold the script “Black Jesus” to CBS for the sitcom “Good Times”. Some of his writing credits include hit shows like “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Who’s the Boss,” “Benson,” “Sanford and Son,” and “The Jeffersons”. He has worked with industry greats such as Bill Cosby (with whom he co-wrote a comedy script) Sinbad, and Curtis Mayfield. He has written three network pilots. Mr. Donley has done work for two of the Big Three television networks, ABC and CBS. He struck a developmental deal with Universal Studios, formed his own production company, and created and produced “The Comedy Game Show” starring Mother Love. He received an NAACP Image Award as the writer for an episode of “Diff’rent Strokes”.

    Mr. Donley was born in Gould, Arkansas, and today makes his home in Los Angeles. His community service endeavors include teaching writing classes for underprivileged youths.

    Photo of Donley
  • Coach Ed Johnson

    Legendary Little League Football Coach and Youth Mentor

    Class of 2019

    Having been Head Coach of the Sunset Tigers Youth Football Organization for the past 48 years, Inductee Edward “Coach Ed” Johnson is believed to be the longest-serving active Community Youth Football Coach in the state of Arkansas. In October 1971, Ed Johnson joined another community leader to organize The Sunset Youth Sports Program in the South End Community of Little Rock. At its inception, the organization consisted of basketball, volleyball and tennis teams. Approached by his brother with an offer to assist him in coaching a youth football team, Coach Ed formed the Sunset Tigers Football Team in 1972. Their home field would be Sunset Park located at 34th and Wolfe streets in the community. Freshly home from the Vietnam War, Coach Ed said in organizing the team he was obeying an order from God. The boys were as good for him in helping him to readjust into society after his well-decorated service to his country as he was for them in a role much like a surrogate father. Johnson coached 27 players who went on to play in the National Football League and 75 college and professional team tryout players. His awards and recognitions are extensive including being inducted into the Mississippi Youth Football Hall of Fame and receiving special recognition by then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton as a recipient of the Arkansas Community Service Award.

    His military service is marked by two Purple Heart Awards, a Bronze Star Award, a Silver Star Award, a Vietnam Bronze Star Award, and several Presidential Citations. Coach Ed’s team attends church with him and receives guidance and encouragement from him to ensure they remain on the path he believes God has laid for them. He continues to live in the South End Community, the area he has called home since he was 12 years old.

    Photo of Johnson
  • Ms. Kristin Lewis

    Internationally Renowned Opera Star

    Class of 2019

    Inductee Kristin Lewis is a Little Rock native who has taken the opera world by storm as a lyrico-spinto soprano, best known and praised for her interpretations of composer Giuseppe Verdi‘s operatic heroines. She began her vocal studies and received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. She continued her studies and received her Master of Music degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She is the recipient of a bevy of awards, including Artist of the Year, Oscars of the Opera Award, the Opera Prize, and the Audience Award to name a few. The 2015-16 opera season featured Ms. Lewis in her house debut at Carnegie Hall as Soprano Soloist with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, and she has performed in some of the most prestigious opera houses and theaters in the world, giving life to the works of some of the world’s most renowned composers. She has established the Kristin Lewis Foundation, Inc., to shine a spotlight on younger musicians and to foster the discovery and appreciation of opera and musical cultures. Ms. Lewis is very active in humanitarian work, and she was named an Ambassador for the Red Cross in Austria. She is also a supporter of Animal Care Austria, an animal rescue agency based in Vienna, Austria, where she currently resides.

    Photo of Lewis
  • Mr. Roscoe Robinson

    Iconic Gospel/R&B Singer and Recording Artist

    Class of 2019

    Inductee Roscoe Robinson is a 91-year-old recording artist from Dermott, Arkansas. His career spans several decades and has brought him acclaim in both the gospel and R&B genres. He began as a gospel singer and songwriter. He performed with such noted gospel groups as the Highway QC’s, The Fairfield Four, the Blind Boys of Mississippi, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. He worked with such individual greats as the late Sam Cooke and the late Bobby Womack. Robinson was as good a secular artist as he was a gospel artist, so between the 1960s and the 1980s, he delved into the Rhythm and Blues arena. He left his mark on R&B with several chart-making hits. To celebrate his 90th birthday in May 2018, a New York record company simultaneously released two songs from Robinson, a gospel recording and an R&B recording. Roscoe Robinson has made his home in Birmingham, Alabama, for nearly 50 years.

    Photo of Robinson

Make a Nomination

Without nominations, we would not be able to recognize the great Arkansans. If you know someone who is worthy of being inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, please consider nominating them. Nominees must have Arkansas roots (birthplace or place of residence) and have significantly contributed to African-American culture, the state of Arkansas, and/or the nation. Nominations are open year round, so submit your completed form for consideration today.

Nomination submissions must include:

A letter explaining why the nominees should be inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

Any supporting materials, i.e. articles featuring or about the nominee.

You can submit a nomination form below or print a copy and mail a completed packet to:

ABHOF Nominations Committee PO Box 1042 Little Rock, AR 72223

**Note: Mailed material will NOT be returned. Please do not send original copies.**

Nomination is not paramount to selection. Nominees will be placed in a pool for consideration by the Nominations Committee. If you have questions about how to submit your nomination form, please contact us at arkansasblackhalloffame@gmail.com.

Decorative Rocks

Please upgrade to Microsoft Edge for the best experience.