Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen alerted me yesterday that Black Lives Matter T-shirts, once banished and then returned to the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, are no longer for sale at the state’s museum of the African-American experience.
I was unable to check the overseeing Arkansas Heritage Department to confirm his account — and reportedly that of others — that inquiries about the shirt had brought responses from staff that the shirt was no longer stocked.
I tried to purchase some BLM T-shirts at the MTCC today after someone told me they were not being sold. When I entered the gift shop area and told the receptionist I wanted to purchase BLM T-shirts, she politely told me no shirts were on hand, that the last shirts were sold a week ago, and that no more shirts have been ordered. She was unable to tell me why this popular selling and culturally relevant item was not re-ordered. She could not tell me who decided to not re-order the BLM T-shirts.
Yes, we could order BLM T-shirts on-line from another vendor. But as I told the nice receptionist, my online order would not benefit the MTCC. I purchase BLM T-shirts from the MTCC as a way to support its mission.
Griffen surmises that someone in the “hierarchy” doesn’t want the shirts sold in the state museum. He urges calls to the governor, Heritage Department Director Stacy Hurst and Mosaic Templars director Christian Shutt.
Any elaborations are welcome here.
Hurst is not easy to reach. But should you be so lucky, also ask her about the sacking of the popular director of the Delta Cultural Center in Helena and what Republican foot soldier she’s picked for the job. At least the Delta Center is not being closed, as was rumored early in Hurst’s tenure. Given the ante-bellum columns Hurst ordered grafted onto the front of the new Heritage Department headquarters building on La Harpe, some recent dark speculation about future programs at the Delta Center is understandable. Oh, and heck, ask her also about that rumor she might run for secretary of state. Her unfriendliness would be a suitable followup to Mark Martin.
This recounts when the T-shirts were returned to the Mosaic Templars center for a time. Officials defending the first removal said they were not Arkansas- or exhibit-specific, as they attempt to do in items for sale.
UPDATE FROM AD AGENCY REPRESENTING THE HERITAGE DEPARTMENT:
Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, submits the following statement in response to inquiries by the Arkansas Times about the sale of Black Lives Matter T-shirts at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center museum store:
“No item at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center museum store has been ‘banned.’ Black Lives Matter T-shirts were re-ordered several months ago and, as of June 30, there was still an inventory of 64 shirts. Last week, an individual bought a large quantity of shirts at one time, depleting inventory.
“Our Arkansas Heritage museum stores provide an opportunity to help tell the story of the museum, but also to provide needed supplemental income for these facilities. We will continue our evaluation of museum store items with an eye toward these goals.”
I asked the spokesman for Hurst if there was a pending order to restock the shirts. I’ll let you know if I get a response. She said she had put the question to Hurst.
PS: Twitter followers confirm that the MTCC was the source for a big purchase of Black Lives Matter shirts for a recent rally in Little Rock. Glad they had a stock on hand. There will be future rallies. Couldn’t hurt to be prepared.