I received a report earlier today [March 10, 2016] that apparel bearing the slogan "Black Lives Matter" has been ordered removed from sale at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center operated by the Department of Arkansas Heritage in Little Rock, Arkansas.
After receiving that report, I spoke with Rebecca Burkes, Deputy Director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Ms. Burkes initially said she would need to make an inquiry into my concern. When I told her that I knew that "Black Lives Matter" labeled apparel had been ordered removed from the MTCC at her direction, Ms. Burke said that she is emphasizing that all Arkansas Heritage gift stores review their inventory and make sure that the inventory is "compatible with the mission" of the store.
I asked Ms. Burkes to explain how Black Lives Matter labeled apparel would be incompatible with the mission of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. I also confronted her with my knowledge that she personally ordered Black Lives Matter apparel to be removed. She invited me to make an appointment to discuss my concern with the MTCC Advisory Council.
As I mentioned to Ms. Burke, there is no doubt that Civil War memorabilia and apparel, including apparel related to the Confederacy, is stocked at the Pea Ridge Battle Field gift shop. It is unacceptable that apparel bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan has been removed from the gift shop operated by the Department of Arkansas Heritage dedicated to black culture.
Ms. Burke also told me that a lot of the Black Lives Matter T-shirts have been sold, but that only a few were left, as if that justified removing them and banning the item from being restocked. Then she tried to talk with me about a coming exhibit, as if my concern about her decision could be mollified by attending it.
I urge everyone to contact the Department of Arkansas Heritage at (501) 324-9162 and the office of Governor Asa Hutchinson at (501) 682-2345. Please protest the deliberate and culturally destructive decision to remove and ban Black Lives Matter apparel from being stocked and sold at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center gift shop.
Arkansas is the state of the Elaine Race Massacre, the Little Rock Central High Crisis, and countless other vicious and outrageous conduct against black people. Black Lives Matter! State officials need to know we understand this truth, will insist on it being respected, and will challenge this state employee and her department to respect it.
Black Lives Matter!