LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - As the Bethel AME Church in Little Rock celebrates its 150th anniversary, a notable Arkansan spoke to the congregation.

Former secretary of transportation Rodney Slater spoke at the church Sunday night. The Arkansas native served under President Bill Clinton and had been a member of that church.

In his talk, he addressed the history of the church and what its members have witnessed over the past century and a half.

"They actually came into existence in the year of President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation. And they just heard and went through the inauguration and the festivities of President Barak Obama," said Slater.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Slater rose from poverty and became the an Arkansas assistant attorney general in addition to chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, director of governmental affairs for Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, the first African-American director of the Federal Highway Administration, and U.S. secretary of transportation.

For more details on Slater and his role in Arkansas, visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas website: http://on.kthv.com/1dlf0wA

In addition to Slater, other political luminaries from Bethel AME include members of the Little Rock Nine, and a former pastor, the late Reverend Rufus K. Young, played a crucial role along with Daisy Bates in the Central High integration movement.

Read or Share this story: http://on.kthv.com/1c1yuM2