Speaker Profile: Dr. Fitzgerald Hill, President of Arkansas Baptist College
Dr. Fitzgerald Hill is the president of Arkansas Baptist College. He is a passionate and innovative educator who works tirelessly to educate the underserved population, particularly African American males. The college president and former major college head football coach desires to see the community that ABC calls home reach its fullest potential.
On Feb. 1, 2006, Hill accepted the challenges associated with becoming the 13th president of Arkansas Baptist College. The school was founded in 1884 by former slaves. The campus houses the oldest building in Arkansas dedicated to educating African Americans and has fought for creating equal education access since it origin. The college’s history is one that is rich and varied, particularly due to its location near Little Rock Central High School, where one of the civil rights era’s seminal events took place in 1957 involving the Little Rock Nine.
After significantly increasing the college’s enrollment, growing the operating budget and leading efforts associated with community revitalization and economic development, Hill now is at the forefront of developing the Derek Olivier Research Institute for the Prevention of Black-on-Black Violence. This research think tank will honor the student (Derek Olivier) who was murdered by another young black male within the campus community in September 2012. Hill is passionate about ending the top cause of death for African American males between the ages of 18 and 35, black-on-black violence.
Hill made three trips to Israel from 2009 through 2013. He was and remains intrigued by the unified Jewish community and culture. The business model implemented by the Jews for economic sustainability was refreshing and empowering to the college president. Hill began studying the historical relationship between blacks and Jews. He believes that the Jewish community’s approach to cultural values and community life is key to re-establishing the values and history that at one time made the African American community a formidable force. What follows is a look at Hill’s beliefs concerning what Jewish culture can offer to African Americans as a model towards community revitalization and restoration along three core values: 1) moral values and responsibilities; 2) educational access and attainment; 3) economic sustainability produced from an entrepreneurial mindset from within your own community. These core values resonate loud and clear in Clifton Taulbert’s book, “Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored”. This memoir depicts a world that vanished in the wake of integration, the world of the “colored town.” Taulbert eloquently describes how behind the painful and sometimes humiliating barriers of racial segregation there existed a totally black milieu in which the people nurtured and enjoyed life together.