A special tribute to an author who many feel has “shed the light” on the Elaine Massacre of 1919 will highlight this year's sixth edition of the Healing of the Land Commemoration and Prayer gathering on Saturday, Sept. 30.

A special tribute to an author who many feel has “shed the light” on the Elaine Massacre of 1919 will highlight this year's sixth edition of the Healing of the Land Commemoration and Prayer gathering on Saturday, Sept. 30.

“Grif Stockley has probably done more to shed light on the massacre of hundreds of black people in Elaine and on the concerted effort of white supremacists in Arkansas to cover it up than has done any prosecutor, journalist or anyone else I know,” stated the Honorable Wendell Griffen, judge of the Arkansas Sixth Judicial Circuit Court in a press release. “He deserves thanks from all of us.”

Griffen is also pastor of the New Millennium Church in Little Rock and the author of “The Fierce Urgency of Prophetic Hope.” Griffen served as the keynote speaker at the official opening of the Elaine Legacy Center back on Feb. 17.

Stockley is the author of “Blood in the Eyes, the Elaine Race Massacre of 1919” and “Race Matters, Black/White Relations in Arkansas from Slavery to the Present.” He will be honored for his pioneering research on Elaine's role in shaping the course of civil rights in America and his life-long commitment to equal justice.

“Stockley has given his life and career as an attorney and author to seek justice and to make this a better nation and state,” commented Rev. Steve Copley, executive director of Interfaith Voices Arkansas, in a prepared statement. “He has been a tireless advocate as an attorney for civil rights and for the low income. As an author he has been able to use the history of the Arkansas Delta in general and Elaine in particular to call for change in a system that has not allowed justice for African Americans.”

Born in Marianna, Stockley told an Elaine group last year that understanding his family history as slave owners was among his motivations for his life-long career in legal aid and civil rights.

“It's past time to thank the author who has withstood years of rejection and scorn for searching for the truth,” stated Rev. Mary Olson, director of the Elaine Legacy Center.

The Center will present Stockley with a commissioned work of art entitled, “The Elaine Massacre” by Arkansas-born artist Angela Davis Johnson.

“My grandmother lived, worked, and prayed down the dirt road in Lambrook with her children,” Johnson recalled in a press release. “My family passed on stories of the Elaine Massacre in blood and dreams.”

The sixth annual Healing of the Land Commemoration and Prayer gathering will officially start at 4 p.m. in the Elaine Legacy Center at 313 College Avenue. Elaine residents will gather beginning at 3 p.m. to provide short tours of the area and explaining where the events of 1919 occurred.

The commemoration service will begin with William Quinney III singing “I Stand and Wring My Hands and Cry,” written and sung by Ed Ware of the Elaine 12 while on death row. Over the years, this moving gospel song has been sung at Elaine's First Baptist Church.

After honoring Stockley and a period of prayer, a free chicken dinner will be served.

The Legacy Center houses ongoing research of the Elaine Massacre. Roy King is presently working on the life of Richard Wright's life in Elaine. A grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and National Endowment for the Humanities is funding this project in part.

One of Elaine's oldest buildings at the corner of Main Street and Highway 44 was recently bought as a proposed site for a memorial to the Elaine 12 and the victims of the massacre. The building is featured prominently in photographs dating back to 1919.

The Elaine Legacy Center is one of four Waves of Prayer centers in Elaine. The others are the Elaine Community Center, the South Phillips County Food and Garden Center and Olas de Oracion, a farm worker outreach.