Little Rock Look Back: Classes resume in Little Rock high schools

On August 12, 1959, something remarkable and yet unremarkable happened.  Little Rock teenagers started the high school year.

After turmoil and no classes in 1958-1959 (dubbed the Lost Year), the state law allowing for schools to be shut down in order to keep them segregated had been overturned.

The six new school board members (all of whom had started since December 1958) decided to start classes in the middle of August instead of the traditional post-Labor Day start. The original start date of post-Labor Day was changed in an announcement on Monday, August 4.  Among the reasons was to get classes started before Gov. Faubus could convene the Arkansas General Assembly into special session and create more mischief in order to try to keep Little Rock’s high Schools segregated.

While it WAS important to have the schools reopened, the desegregation was minimal.  Originally, only three African Americans were admitted to Central High (Jefferson Thomas, Elizabeth Eckford, and Carlotta Walls, who had all been part of the Little Rock Nine) and only three were admitted to Hall High.  One of the three admitted to Central, Eckford, had enough credits due to correspondence courses, and did not enroll.

On August 12, about 1,000 segregationists attended a rally at the State Capitol hearing from Gov. Faubus and other speakers.  After it was over, about 250 marched or drove toward Central High School.  A block away from the school, they met a phalanx of police officers who turned them away.  When the marchers broke into rioters, the Fire Department turned its hoses on them. The police ended up arresting 24 people.  (This more active response by Police and Fire personnel was a marked difference from two years prior.)

After the school year started, the School Board interviewed over a dozen African American students who wished to transfer from Horace Mann to either Central, Hall, or Technical high schools.  Of these, three would be admitted to Central, including sophomore Sybil L. Jordan (now better known as Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton).

Advertisements

Little Rock is putting the LIT in Literary today at the 2019 Arkansas Literary Festival

Image may contain: textAll the world’s a page, or at least it may seem so as the 2019 Arkansas Literary Festival moves into full force in a variety of venues throughout Little Rock.

LIBRARY SQUARE
At the Ron Robinson Theater:
10am – Levi Agee, Mark Freeman, Mike Mueller, Sister Deborah Troillet
11:30am – Jericho Brown, Geffrey Davis
1pm – Dorie Greenspan, Elizabeth Minchilli
2:30pm – Elizabeth Eckford, Eurydice Stanley, & Grace Stanley, The Worst First Day
4pm – Chigozie Obioma, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Pitchaya Sudbanthad
7pm – Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World

At the CALS Main Library Darragh Center:
10am – Mitchell S. Jackson, Julie Rieger
11:30am – Rick Campbell, Alfred Gough & Miles Millar
1pm – Patrick McGilligan, Andre Millard
2:30pm – Liana Finck, Charles Forsman
4pm – Adam Smith, Mark Freeman, Esme Weijun Wang

At the Roberts Library, Room 124
10am – Book Club Panel with Christine Bonsib, Toshona Carter, Stewart Fuell, Carmen Langston, Gregory Wagnon
11:30am – Roman Muradov, Mary Laura Philpott
1pm – Nita Gould, Joe David Rice
4pm – Cherisse Jones-Branch, Erin Wood

At The Bookstore at Library Square
10am – Charles J. Shields, Brantley Hargrove
11:30am – H.K. Hummel, Short Form Creative Writing (workshop)
2:30pm – Songwriting with Bonnie Montgomery (workshop)
4pm – Andrés Cerpa, Ruben Quesada

At CALS Main Library Level 4
1pm – Emily X. R. Pan

At Nexus Nook
2:30pm – Teen Poetry Contest

At UA Little Rock Downtown
11:30am – Kevin Brockmeier, Kathyrn Davis,
1pm – Crystal C. Mercer, Randi M. Romo
2:30pm – Marina Lostetter, Arkady Martine,
4pm – Ian S. Port

Ron Robinson Theater Alley
Makers Alley 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. with Bang-Up Betty, Matthew Castellano, Control, Crying Weasel Vintage, Dower, Electric Ghost, Green Corner Store, Luna Tick Designs, Milk Dadd, Origami Heroes, Sean Sapp
5:30pm Music by DOT
6pm Music by Dazz & Brie

OTHER VENUES
Christ Episcopal Church – 1pm – Erin McGraw
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church – 2:30pm – Barkley Thompson
Allsopp & Chapple Restaurant – 2:30pm – Rhett Brinkley, Lillian Li, Vaughn Scribner
Eggshells Kitchen Co. – 4pm – Elizabeth Minchilli (fee to attend)
Sticky’s Rock & Roll Chicken Shack – 7pm – Pub or Perish

FAMILY EVENTS AT THE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON CHILDREN’S LIBRARY

  • Pose Like a Prince/Princess – 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Classroom
  • Take Home Free Tales: Book Fair; Books provide by the Junior League of Little Rock and CALS – 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Store
  • Create a Crown: Crafts You Can Wear; Build one in preparation for The Emperor’s New Clothes, or simply to feel royal all day. – 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m
  • The Kinders, a rollicking, good-time concert for kids – 9 a.m., Theater
  • Meet the Billy Goats Gruff (Provided by Heifer Village Urban Farm) – 10 a.m. to Noon, Front lawn
  • StoryTime with Nancy Pruitt, Winston the Pony Goes to a Party. – 10 a.m., Art Gallery
  • Making Merry Music: Drum Circle, Searcy Ewell, Jr. helps kids explore the power of percussion – 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Amphitheatre
  • Hot Dogs for Hansel and Gretel, Free lunches are provided for hungry tots – 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Back patio
  • Grow Your Own Bean Stalk, Plant some magic beans with Drew Bradbury and carry home your new stalk-to-be – 10:30-11 a.m., 11:30 to 12:30 p.m., Greenhouse
  • StoryTime with Craig O’Neill, the lively KTHV anchor shares a bit of Jack & the Beanstalk, and encourages kids to create their own stories – 11 a.m., Theater
  • StoryTime with Higgins Bond, Lorraine: The Girl Who Sang the Storm Away, 11:30 a.m., Theater
  • StoryTime with Jeff Henderson, Stone Soup – Noon, Kitchen
  • Breathe & Believe: Children’s Yoga, Tanesha Forrest is back with her terrific animal yoga workshop – 12:30 p.m., Back patio
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes, enjoy a live stage play about a vain emperor and his “special clothes” that are visible only to the smartest people. What could go wrong? Sponsored by Rebsamen Fund – 1 p.m., Theater

Friday events for the 2019 Arkansas Literary Festival

The Arkansas Literary Festival’s Author! Author! party is tonight (Friday, April 26).  But before that, some of the current festival authors visit future authors.

Many authors have participated in the Fest’s Writers in the Schools (WITS) initiative over the years. The authors travel to schools in the Central Arkansas region speaking directly to students. While today’s students are already authors, interacting with these published authors gives them the opportunity to be inspired by people who have persevered through writers block, frustrations, rejections, successes, and excitement.

This year’s WITS presenters include Higgins Bond, Rick Campbell, Andrés Cerpa, Geffrey Davis, Elizabeth Eckford, Laurie B. Friedman, Lillian Li, Carla Killough McClafferty, Roman Muradov, Chigozie Obioma, Ian S. Port, Joe David Rice, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin.  Sponsored by Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP

Then tonight at 7pm is the aforementioned Author! Author! party on the top floor of the CALS Main Library building in Library Square.  It gives attendees the chance to toast the Arkansas Literary Festival authors at this fête featuring hors d’oeuvres and libations. Books will be available for purchase during the party geared for adults. Tickets are $25 in advance and $40 at the door.

Later at 10:30pm is “The Birth of Loud” Concert. Loosely inspired by Ian S. Port’s new book about the “guitar-pioneering rivalry that shaped rock ‘n’ roll,” Isaac Alexander and Joshua Asante each take the stage, guitar in hand, followed by a mighty set featuring singer/songwriter Bonnie Montgomery and her guitarist. $5 at the door (415 Main Street in Argenta)

Remembering Daisy Bates

Today is the Daisy Bates Holiday in the State of Arkansas.  So it is an appropriate day to pay tribute to Mrs. Bates, who played a leading role in the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates and her husband were important figures in the African American community in the capital city of Little Rock.  Realizing her intense involvement and dedication to education and school integration, Daisy was the chosen agent after nine black students were selected to attend and integrate a Little Rock High School.  Bates guided and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, when they enrolled in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School. President Clinton presented the Little Rock Nine with the Congressional Gold Medal and spoke at the 40th anniversary of the desegregation while he was in office.

When Mrs. Bates died, a memorial service was held at Robinson Center on April 27, 2000.  Among the speakers were President Bill Clinton, Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, and Rev. Rufus K. Young, pastor of the Bethel AME Church.  Others in attendance included Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, Mayor Jim Dailey, Presidential diarist Janis Kearney, former senator and governor David Pryor, and five members of the Little Rock Nine:  Carlotta Walls Lanier, Ernest Green, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Jefferson Thomas, and Elizabeth Eckford.

It was during his remarks at the service that President Clinton announced he had asked that Bates’ south-central Little Rock home be designated as a national historic landmark.

Rock the Oscars 2019: Nine from Little Rock

On April 5, 1965, the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject went to the film “Nine from Little Rock.”

Narrated by Jefferson Thomas, Charles Guggenheim’s documentary looks at the nine African-American students who enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Thomas, one of the students reflects on the state of race relations in the seven years that had elapsed (up to 1964).  The film also focuses on Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford and Thelma Mothershed.

Guggenheim both directed and co-wrote the film. The latter credit was shared with Shelby Storck, who also produced the film.   The film had been commissioned by George Stevens, Jr., for the United State Information Agency.

The Oscar that night was Guggenheim’s first of four.  His others would be for: 1968’s “Robert Kennedy Remembered” (Live Action Short), 1989’s “The Johnstown Flood” (Documentary Short) and 1994’s “A Time for Justice” (Documentary Short).  His son Davis Guggenheim won the Oscar for Documentary, Feature for An Inconvenient Truth.

The film was digitally restored by the Motion Picture Preservation Lab for the 50th anniversary of its win for Best Short Documentary at the 1965 Academy Awards.  It is available for purchase on DVD and can also be viewed in its entirety on YouTube

Skip Day! Happy Birthday to Skip Rutherford!

Though a native of Batesville (and a proud booster to this day), James L. “Skip” Rutherford has lived in Little Rock for many years. While he was a student at the University of Arkansas, he probably never envisioned the impact he would have on the cultural scene of Little Rock.

After moving to Little Rock, Skip (and his wife Billie) became civic boosters which often involved attending or promoting cultural events.  However, by the mid-1990s, this moved into a whole new realm.

Skip was one of the visionaries behind the creation of a Central High Visitors Center.  His interest in this project combined his interests in public service, public policy, and public schools. This was an extension of his work as an aide to Senator David Pryor from 1979 to 1983 and a Little Rock School Board member from 1987 to 1991.  As the 40th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High approached, Skip worked with Mayor Jim Dailey and others to plan the 1997 commemoration activities as well as the 1998 recognition of the Women’s Emergency Committee.

A few weeks after the Central High 40th anniversary events in September 1997, President Clinton announced that Little Rock would be the site of his Presidential Library.  As President of the Clinton Foundation, he was involved in the planning for not only the construction of the building but also the grand opening festivities.  Through his efforts, the City’s major cultural institutions all had events in conjunction with the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center.

In 2006, he followed Sen. David Pryor in the role of Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service.  Among his accomplishments in this role has been the expansion of the Clinton School Speaker Series. This free series of lectures and public discussions has added immensely to Little Rock’s cultural life. Topics range from foreign relations to domestic policy, from social services to community philanthropy, The lecture series has also focused on productions at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, guest artists with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, books by historians, and many other cultural topics over the years.

That he would oversee the expansion of this lecture program should not be a surprise.  He is also the founder (in 1983) of the Political Animals Club. While the original, non-partisan group still meets regularly in Little Rock, several other affiliates have been created in other portions of the state. He has always been one for civil, civic dialogue.

In April and May 2018, Skip was one of the civic leaders who stepped up to promote efforts to save the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He was also involved in the planning and promotion of the Elizabeth Eckford Bench which was installed near Little Rock Central High School in September 2018.  Later that month, he presided over an event celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Women’s Emergency Committee.

Earlier this month, the Clinton School partnered with UA Little Rock Downtown for the a Clinton School program which discussed the 1930s mural which has been restored and now hangs in the new UA Little Rock space.  2019 will offer more opportunities for his civic and cultural boosterism, as well.