Senior in African and African American Studies and History Earns Grant from Black History Commission

Ani-ya Beasley
Photo Submitted

Ani-ya Beasley

Ani-ya Beasley, a senior majoring in African and African American studies and history, has been awarded a Curtis H. Sykes Memorial Grant of $4,000 from the Black History Commission of Arkansas.

Beasley competed alongside professional researchers and large community organizations to win this grant, her first, to support research in the Arkansas State Archives.

Beasley's research focuses on the Black community in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the 19th and early 20th century.

She said, “This research project not only aims to fill historical gaps, but also moves to serve and impact the Hot Springs Black community, as well as Black Arkansans more broadly. For the Hot Springs Black community and Black Arkansans, I hope this research provides a space for historical reconnection, representation and cultural celebration.”

An archival photo of Ral City depicting men and boys
Ral City, 1878
Box 106, Folder 36, Mary D. Hudgins Collection, MC 534, Stereographs Box 1, Image534-3779, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville.

In addition to this community importance, Michael Pierce, associate professor of history, who has been mentoring her research project, added, “Beasley’s research is critical for understanding the roles of newly emancipated Black men in Arkansas politics in the years immediately following the Civil War. Other historians have known that Black voters were an integral part of the Republican coalition, but Ms. Beasley is finding exciting new evidence that allows for an in-depth examination of Black Republicans and the tracking of their political activities through the long 19th century.”

Caree Banton, associate professor of history and director of the African and African American Studies Program, noted, “Undergraduate majors in African and African American Studies are encouraged to become involved in research. Indeed, the spirit of independent research is a major part of AAST. Ms. Beasley has been pursuing social science research with faculty in the program, such as Distinguished Professor of history Trish Starks and assistant professor of political science Najja Baptist. These experiences have served to also strengthen her research and grant-writing skills. Ms. Beasley stands as a shining example of what the program offers to students.”

Beyond her work bringing the contributions of Black Arkansans to light, Beasley has served the university community as the head ambassador for African and African American studies; president of Sankofa, the RSO for African and African American Studies; and community chair of the U of A Distinguished Lectures Committee.

stereoscopic photographs of the Rector Bath House in Hot Springs with Black residents at Mystic Spring
Kennedy, J.F. “Rector Bath House and Arsenic Spring.” Hot Springs dwellings, churches, businesses, hotels & taverns, bathhouses, and springs, including the Ral Hole, "Ral City" and its inhabitants, circa 1880-1900.
Mary D. Hudgins Collection, MC 534, Stereographs Box 1, Image 4224-5, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville.



Trish Starks, Distinguished Professor and director, Arkansas Humanities Center
Department of History


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