Arkansas Soul 2021 Year in Review

2021 Year in Review flyer

During the last 12 months, Arkansans continued to cope with the ongoing pandemic, spoke out against legislation that could harm marginalized communities and expressed themselves through art. Arkansas Soul shared several of those stories with you and before we head into 2022, we want to take one more look back at the year that was.

Here are 10 of our favorite stories from 2021:

Black student rapping into microphone

Students Use Hip Hop to Cope with Personal Trauma in New Documentary

At a high school in Helena-West Helena, students seek healing for themselves and equity in their community through hip hop. The documentary Rap Squad shares their story.

UALR ceramics professor Kensuke Yamada sitting in a kiln

UA Little Rock Ceramics Professor Receives Individual Art Fellowship Award

When first studying ceramics, Japanese native Kensuke Yamada discovered how art made him feel was more important than his fluency in English. Today he’s a University of Arkansas at Little Rock teacher and Arkansas Arts Council fellowship award recipient.

Women of color entrepreneurs

Arkansas Women of Color Face Barriers to Entrepreneurship, Study Finds

A study from the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas finds access to capital and racial bias are the biggest barriers facing women of color entrepreneurs in the state.

astronaut José Hernández

Migrant Worker Reaches for Stars, Becomes Astronaut

As a 10-year-old migrant farm worker, José Hernández decided he wanted to be an astronaut. Decades later, he achieved his dream of traveling to space for NASA.

Apartment building exterior

Emergency Rental Assistance Much Needed in Marshallese Community

Lost wages due the to pandemic has led many Marshallese families to seek emergency rental assistance to avoid eviction. When applying for help, they’ve faced roadblocks like the language barrier, technology and waiting weeks for approval.

Hot Springs Poet Receives Governor’s Arts Award

Elmer Beard is an 83-year-old poet from Hot Springs known as the Octo Griot. After writing poetry for decades, he has published his first book and been honored as a Governor’s Arts Awards recipient.

man receives COVID-19 vaccine at the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Native American Tribes Provide COVID-19 Vaccines to Public

When COVID-19 were not as accessible in March, the Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations began offering vaccinations to the general public — including undocumented immigrants — no matter where they lived.

Advocate Fights for Reform, Dignity in Criminal Justice System

After being incarcerated for seven years, Ruby Welch is now an activist fighting for reform and dignity in the criminal justice system.

Afghan women in burqas walking in the street in Kabul

Afghan Fulbright Scholars Concerned About Uncertain Future, Family’s Safety

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan upended the lives of Afghan Fulbright Scholars who are studying in the U.S. and worried about their relatives in their home country. One University of Arkansas teacher is trying to help them find answers.

Ida B. the Queen book cover

Ida B. Wells Descendent Headlines Journalism Conference

Ida B. Wells was a prominent journalist and activist. Michelle Duster shares some stories about her grand-grandmother’s life in her book “Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells.”