Celebrating Black Women Trailblazers: A Conversation with Talicia Richardson

As we continue our focus on Black History Month, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas proudly spotlights another Black woman trailblazer, Talicia Richardson, executive director of 64.6 Downtown. In this exclusive Q&A for our Making History blog series, Talicia shares insights from her journey, illuminating the challenges, triumphs and enduring impact of Black women in Arkansas.

 

Can you share a bit about your background and journey? What inspired you to pursue the path you’re on today?

I began my career in the mental health and insurance industry. My husband and I followed his career, which led us to relocate to three states. This movement didn’t allow me to pursue my license in mental health but did allow me to catapult into the field of hospitality utilizing my advanced skillset. I was afforded many professional opportunities in the corporate space, becoming the youngest and first Black woman to become VP at our North America office. The experiences and relationships I developed from this venture were life-altering and strengthened my confidence to move as my heart desired, knowing everything was possible. This sense of “being” eventually brought me back to my hometown to make a difference within the community.

 

In your experience, what are the key issues that need attention when supporting and uplifting Black women and girls in Arkansas?

Promotion and encouragement of each other is imperative.  We should hold others accountable within our peer group when behavior is counterproductive.  This accountability should be done in love while modeling uplifting behavior.

 

How can the community, organizations and individuals contribute to positive change?

It starts with individual impact. As individuals, we must surround ourselves with others who exemplify respectful interactions with other women and girls, meet others where they are (even when their opinion differs from your own), and embark on a journey of being enlightened.   Be available to be a mentor, and be open to being mentored.  

 

How do you balance advocating for the broader Black community while addressing the specific needs and challenges Black women and girls face in Arkansas?

I attempt to understand the overarching issue, and then I ponder how this impacts my community.  At this moment in time, two significant issues affecting our State and my community are maternal health and mental health. As a Black woman, I challenge myself and work with others to educate as well as build awareness to affect positive change.

 

Lastly, what message or piece of wisdom would you like to share with the next generation of Black women leaders in Arkansas who aspire to follow in your footsteps?

Social media is a great resource to get messaging to the masses. It should complement in-person, physical interaction with others, not replace them. To state it simply, move from behind your keyboard to build and maintain authentic connections with others.

 

Talicia Richardson is the Executive Director of 64.6 Downtown, a nonprofit committed to creating vibrant spaces in downtown Fort Smith. In 2023 the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas and Little Rock Soirée recognized Talicia among the Top 100 Women of Impact in Arkansas. Her volunteerism spans work with the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., mentoring, a third term as a member of the Fort Smith School Board, a Community Development Institute board member, as well as an advisory member of Arkansans for the Arts. Previous appointments include the Arkansas Early Childhood Commission, Western Arkansas Community Foundation, Fort Smith Planning Commission and Fort Smith Advertising and Promotions Commission. 

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