The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, a division of the Arkansas Department of Education, on Tuesday honored popular Little Rock radio personality and community activist Joe Booker with the 2021 Juneteenth Inspiration Award.
Booker, a broadcaster for Power 92 known as “Broadway Joe,” was recognized for his contributions to Arkansas by hosting inaugural Juneteenth celebrations in Central Arkansas. He hosted Juneteenth events in the 1990s that drew thousands from across the state to several concert venues in Little Rock.
Juneteenth recognizes June 19, 1865, when former slaves in Texas were informed by federal troops that they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Earlier this month, Juneteenth officially was made a national holiday.
Booker is a native of South Carolina who began his broadcasting career in the military in 1976 with the Armed Forces Korean Network. After relocating to Arkansas, he earned a degree in African-American Community Leadership from Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock.
“Mr. Booker spearheaded the original central Arkansas Juneteenth celebration, which inspired other organizations across the state to host similar events,” DuShun Scarbrough, executive director of the Arkansas MLK Commission, said in a press release. “Now that we are celebrating the first official Juneteenth as a federal holiday, we felt it was appropriate to acknowledge Mr. Booker’s contributions to the celebration. Not to mention, he participates in several outreach projects across the state and assists the commission in promoting the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”