Grant awarded to restore Mitchell-East Building

Thursday, May 30, 2002

The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council recently awarded a grant on a Tyronza property owned by Arkansas State University, according to Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of Delta Heritage Initiatives at ASU.

The grant, part of a $1.24 million total amount, will be used for assisting in restoring, archeology and research at the Mitchell-East Building in Tyronza.

The building, which will serve as the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, will be renovated due to the work of community leaders and Poinsett County officials, who contacted ASU because they were interested in preserving the property on Main St., which is believed to be a touchstone of a nationally significant agricultural labor movement.

The building originally housed dry cleaners run by H.L. Mitchell and a service station run by Clay East, two of the principal founders of the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, according to Hawkins. The union was established in July 1934 by 11 whites and seven blacks and Sunnyside School near Tyronza.

ASU intends to operate the building as a museum focusing on the sharecropping system of agriculture, the farm labor movement in the South and its role as a forerunner to other Civil Rights movements.

The grants will provide significant movement toward the advancement of the project. The initial work completed through the grant monies will enable the program to seek additional funds through private gifts, grants and other sources for their ongoing operation as branches of the ASU Museum, Hawkins said.

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