In a February 1 speech in Hope, Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliott, a native of Nevada County, emphasized involvement by young people in politics and the political process, and she said many aspects of daily life in the Arkansas often come down to politics, so their voices need to be heard.

In a February 1 speech in Hope, Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliott, a native of Nevada County, emphasized involvement by young people in politics and the political process, and she said many aspects of daily life in the Arkansas often come down to politics, so their voices need to be heard.
“The quality of highways you drive? It is politics. The kind of schools we have in the state? It is politics. The funding that keeps the doors to this university here in Hope open? It comes down to politics. Politics is important; politics does matter. What is happening in national and state politics today can be discouraging, but that can’t stop people from being involved, it can’t stop people from making their voices heard,” she said.
“When these decisions are made, we need people in the discussion. Are these conversations uncomfortable sometimes? They are, but these are conversations that need to happen, whether it be about race, funding, Medicaid or education. It is about what Arkansas is, and what we want it to be in the future,” Elliott said.
Elliott was born in Willisville graduated from Willisville High School. She graduated from college twice, both times staying in southwestern Arkansas, with an undergraduate degree from SAU in Magnolia and a graduate degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
Today, she lives in Little Rock, and she represents a good portion of Pulaski County. She also served in the Arkansas House, and once ran for Congress.
In recent years as a good portion of Arkansas has voted Republican — and state government has been largely controlled by the GOP — Elliott has gain a devoted statewide following as a voice and leader in the State Democratic Party.
At both Democratic and Black History events throughout the state, Elliot, a former Majority Leader of the Arkansas State Senate, is often treated like a rock star, an Arkansan version of Senator Bernie Sanders. Her visit for a Black History event at the University of Arkansas at Hope saw hordes of admirers seeking her out for photos, selfies, and autographs.
She remembers growing up in a time of integration of schools, and how she was a pioneer of sorts, entering and then graduating from Willisville High School.
“It was a challenging time, but I persevered and learned from the experience,” she said.
Elliott recalled that “Black History Month” was originally conceived as “Negro History Week” in February 1926 by Carter G. Woodson after becoming one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard.
“In all those years of school, he realized he learned little of his own history, almost as if it didn’t exist,” she said.
And Elliott also noted that it wasn’t until 1969 that “Black History Month” evolved to what is known today, and it was finally officially declared by then-President Gerald Ford in 1976.
“When you think about that, in the context of thousands of years of history, it wasn’t that long ago,” she said.
“And why do we have Black History? Why do we still observe a ‘Black History Month’? I believe every generation has a responsibility to move ahead, but in order to do so, it is necessary to know what has come before,” she said.