Henri Linton, Sr., director and curator of the University Museum and Cultural Center at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is among the cadre of interviewees in the HistoryMakers project. A 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, HistoryMakers uses video to create an oral history of influential African-Americans across all industries. Their digital archive currently contains more than 2,800 interviews.
“It is indeed an honor to have been selected for inclusion in The HistoryMakers. I count my selection to be among the signature honors I have received during my lifetime,” Linton said. “Not only will my name appear in the ledgers of the Library of Congress for generations to come, but the names of my father, mother, siblings and the generations of Lintons before me. I believe there is no greater honor that I could bestow my parents than their inclusion in the annals of this history project.”
Linton’s participation in The HistoryMakers came as a result of Julieanna Richardson, the project’s founder and executive director. During her visit to the University Museum and Cultural Center in the fall of 2017, she was highly pleased with what she saw in the museum and felt it needed to be included.
Born in the rural farming community of Lewiston (Greene County), Alabama, the name of Henri Linton has been synonymous with the history and legacy of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for the past 49 years. After winning a national art competition at17 sponsored by the Columbus College of Arts and Design (CCAD) in Ohio, he moved to Ohio in with the assistance of his high school principal McDonald Hughes and Buford Boone, a Pulitzer Prize winning publisher of the Tuscaloosa News. Linton earned a diploma at CCAD in 1966 before returning to Alabama to study at the University of Alabama, where he was one of few black students enrolled at the university before leaving for Boston, Massachusetts.
In 1969, Linton received a bachelor of fine arts from Boston University and a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati Graduate School of Fine Arts in 1974. He returned to UAPB in 1974 and succeeded his mentor John Howard as chairman of the UAPB art department in 1980.
Like his predecessor, Linton worked tirelessly during his tenure to maintain a quality art program. Through his meticulous efforts, the art department received accreditation from the National Association for Schools of Art and Design, one of the few historically black institutions to receive such a distinction. During his 34-year tenure as chairperson, he also cofounded the annual Chancellor’s Benefit for the Arts.
As an artist, Linton has a unique and rare appreciation for historical artifacts. He is an avid collector of rare African-American books, photographs, coins, stamps, and other materials and artifacts pertaining to UAPB and local history.
His passion for history and vast collection of artifacts led him to create several comprehensive photographic exhibits on Black history and culture in Arkansas. In 1993, he created The Keepers of the Spirit history project that documents the 145-year history of UAPB. He also established the UAPB Keepers of the Spirit Hall of Fame that has inducted more than 200 outstanding individuals for their support of UAPB and society in general. This exhibition led to the founding of the University Museum and Cultural Center in 2004, where he currently serves as museum curator and director.
In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts, Linton was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2015, he was also inducted into the UAPB/AM&N National Alumni Hall of Fame. Through it all, Linton stills finds time to serve on various community and state boards, and is an active member of several professional and community organizations. He has been married to Dr. Hazel J. Linton for 47 years, and they have one son, Henri Linton, Jr.
For more information about The HistoryMakers project, visit www.thehistorymakers.org.