My grandmother taught at Philander Smith many years ago. On its website is the original mission statement. Formed in 1877, like other Historically Black schools, the doors were open to educate former slaves and their children.
My grandmother, Annie Talbot, was born right after the Civil War to a former slave. She was educated at Rust College in Holly Springs, MS. Census records indicate that at 18 she was a teacher of mathematics. She and her husband were in the earliest classes. When they married, Ida B. Wells returned for the occasion.
Arkansas may have been a good place to find work as many in my family moved there. The blog on Little Rock makes it seem like a good place to visit and research its history.
There are many of the choirs programs on youtube.