Elmer Beard is a published author, retired educator and lifelong freedom fighter. In the 1960s, he challenged local businesses and government agencies to hire Black employees. He then served eight, two-year terms as a City Councilman in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he secured funds to build infrastructure throughout the overlooked African-American community. Most recently, he was the County Democratic Election Commissioner, ensuring the enfranchisement of every resident.
Beard self-published his first book, The Challengers: Untold Stories of African Americans Who Changed the System in One Small Southern Municipality. The political profile was a grant recipient from the Clinton Family Foundation, the Arkansas Humanities Council, the Arkansas Black History Commission and the Oaklawn Scholarship Foundation. Beard co-wrote a play, With All Deliberate Speed, about his experience as an English teacher preparing Black students to desegregate a White high school in the South.
He earned a B.A. in English from Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock and an M.S.E. in English education from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. Beard also studied at the University of Missouri in Columbia and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After years of teaching primary and secondary schools, he culminated his teaching career as an adjunct English professor at National Park College in Hot Springs and his alma mater Arkansas Baptist College.
At 83, he is making his debut as a published poet in Let Reason Roll: Race, Religion & Reflections. Beard is known as the Octo Griot. The T is silent.
The Octo Griot