The Civil War Helena Initiative has announced that the “un-wrapping” of the bronze sculpture of a child representing the beginning of Southland College will be held in the Helena at Court Square Park at 5 p.m. on Dec. 14.
The Civil War Helena Initiative has announced that the “un-wrapping” of the bronze sculpture of a child representing the beginning of Southland College will be held in the Helena at Court Square Park at 5 p.m. on Dec. 14. “This exhibit highlights the donations of money and labor from the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry which made it possible for the school to move from a local church located on Perry Street between Cherry and Walnut streets to the 30-acre site just outside of Helena,” stated Susan Carter president of Arkansas Delta Arts Partnership. The sculpture was funded by a grant to the ADAP from the Arkansas Arts Council, and matched with funds from the Helena-West Helena Advertising & Promotion Commission. “A proposal for a grant to have a bronze sculpture made of a young student was developed in 2010 and rather than sculpt just any child it was decided to use a local student as a model,” reported Cathy Cunningham of Helena-West Helena A&PC. KIPP student Jordan Covington, now a 4th grader, was chosen as the model based on academics and character. “Photographs were taken of Jordan a couple of years ago and sent to Basil Watson, a sculptor from Jamaica, who did an absolutely amazing job,” commented Cunningham. “We are so excited to be unveiling yet another piece that reflects our Civil War history.” The story of Civil War Helena is about more than the 7 Confederate generals from Phillips County. It is a story about the lives of all people during the years 1861 - 1865. Most men in Phillips County joined the Confederacy in the spring of 1861 and went east to Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia to fight for the South. The following year, in July 1862, the Union Army marched into Helena from Northwest Arkansas followed by thousands of freedom seekers and stayed until 1866. General Curtis made the decision to protect the former slaves by making them contraband of war. He provided them with “free papers” and paid them to work building Fort Curtis and the surrounding batteries to fortify the town. In 1863, many of the former slaves enlisted in the Union Army and fought during the Battle of Helena and many battles after that. “A number of benevolent societies came to Helena during the Civil War to provide services for freedmen,” explained Cunningham. “These organizations founded and staffed schools, orphanages and hospitals. One such institution was the Freedmen's Asylum for Orphans that evolved into Southland School, a private boarding school for African American children from throughout the South. Southland School later became Southland College, which remained in operation until the 1920s.”