Students impress with MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom
Little Rock, Ark., – Yesterday as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service, the Mosaic Templars brought a group of student volunteers to the Dreamland Ballroom (MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom), located at 800 West 9th Street on the third floor of the Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com building.
The group of students brought great attitudes and terrific work ethic along with them, they not only painted the ballroom floor they also cleaned inside and around the outdoor area of the 800 block of 9th Street. Everyone employed at Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com was greatly impressed by the young people who turned out. These students gave up a day out of school to be a part of the Mosaic Templars MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom, though none of them seemed to feel that they were giving up anything.
Kerry McCoy, owner of Taborian Hall which houses both her company Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com and the Dreamland Ballroom praised the students as being our future in Little Rock.
McCoy spent the 2 hours the students were on hand, sharing the history of Dreamland with the young people who had no idea how important 9th Street was to the Little Rock economy and African American community. The students who were part of the MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom learned they were working to restore a part of Little Rock’s rich cultural history.
“After talking to the young people today who volunteered at Dreamland Ballroom, and finding out they don’t remember 9th Street being the black business district and Main Street being the white business district, it only validates that I am doing the right thing trying to save the Dreamland Ballroom,” McCoy told KTHV 11 reporter Macy Jenkins. When Jenkin’s asked one of the volunteer’s why does your community matter to you? The response: “Because I live here.”
In 1916, construction was completed on Taborian Hall and during the first 50 years Taborian had become many things for the 9th street community. Chief among them, a great stop for African American entertainers who today are thought of as some of America’s greatest entertainers. Performers such as B.B. King, Louis Jordan, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Nat “King” Cole, Etta James and many more graced the Dreamland stage.
Taborian Hall was also home to the USO, a place to relax for African American soldiers during the difficult period of World War II when those soldiers were still segregated from their white counterparts.
Taborian has housed businesses and doctors offices throughout the years, but in the difficult economy of the 1970’s the Taborian star began to fade and by the 1980’s the building had began to fall into disrepair. By 1991, a fire had almost completely destroyed the ballroom, leaving it open to the skies, until Little Rock entrepreneur Kerry McCoy purchased the building to house her company Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com which she started in 1975. Shortly after taking ownership, McCoy began restoration.
The staff of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com and the Friends of Dreamland Ballroom non-profit organization wish to thank the volunteers and the Mosaic Templars for organizing the 2014 MLK Challenge.
Visit the Dreamland Ballroom Facebook for more photos from the event.