Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Little Rock Look Back: Sixty Years of the Little Rock Nine

Sixty years ago today the Little Rock Nine entered Central High School and stayed. On one hand, this brought to the end a nearly month long standoff between segregationists and those who wanted to obey the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board decision.

In the bigger picture, the struggle did not end that day.  Throughout the remainder of the school year, the Little Rock Nine were subjected to threats, isolation and hostility.  Outside of the school, while the crowds may had dispersed after September 25, the raw feelings did not subside.

This was evidenced by the fact that the following year the high schools were closed to avoid having them integrated.

But September 25, 1957, was an historic day in the United States. Under guard of members of the 101st Airborne Division of the Army, the Little Rock Nine were escorted into Central High School. This action by President Dwight Eisenhower was the result of the intrusive efforts of Governor Orval Faubus who had used the Arkansas National Guard to keep the nine students out.

The City of Little Rock was largely a bystander in this issue. The form of government was changing from Mayor-Council to City Manager in November 1957. Therefore Mayor Woodrow Mann and the entire City Council were lame ducks. Mann, whose son was a senior at Central, tried to focus on keeping the peace in Little Rock. Most (if not all) of his Council members sided with the Governor.

Congressman Brooks Hays, a Little Rock resident, had tried to broker an agreement between the President and the Governor but was unsuccessful.  Following that, Mayor Mann was in discussions with the White House about the ability of the Little Rock Police Department to maintain order.  Finally, in the interest of public safety, the President federalized the National Guard and removed them. This paved the way for the Army to come in.

Though the school year was not easy, the nine youths who became known worldwide as the Little Rock Nine were finally in school.  They were Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Pattillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton, Governor Mike Huckabee and Mayor Jim Dailey, famously held open the doors of Central High for the Little Rock Nine on the 40th anniversary.  Ten years later, Clinton, Huckabee and Dailey returned joined by Governor Mike Beebe and Mayor Mark Stodola to host the 50th anniversary events.

Today, President Clinton was once again at Central.  This time he was joined by Governor Asa Hutchinson and Mayor Stodola.  Two people who have played parts in organizing all three of these commemorations are City Manager Bruce T. Moore and Central High Principal Nancy Rousseau.  Others, such as Skip Rutherford and Annie Abrams have participated in all three commemorations.

In light of its role in history, the school is a National Historic Site, while still functioning as a high school.

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Little Rock Look Back: New USS Little Rock Launched

USS LR afloatEarlier this year, on July 18, the new U.S.S. Little Rock (LCS9) was christened and officially launched in a ceremony in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Among those in attendance at the ceremony will be Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and US Senator John Boozman.   Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who served on the original U.S.S. Little Rock during the Vietnam War, was also present at the ceremony.

The U.S.S. Little Rock will be the nation’s ninth littoral combat ship.  It has been built for the U.S. Navy by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) at the MMC shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.

The  christening ceremony celebrated the ship’s physical transition from land to sea.  The ceremony will be a symbolic transition from a hull number to a ship with a name and spirit of its own.

Following Janee Bonner’s shattering of the champagne bottle on the hull, the U.S.S. Little Rock was side launched into the Menominee River.  A side launch is unique, because the ship enters the water broadside. It is mostly used on inland waters, rivers and lakes.

In June of this year, representatives from the U.S. Navy came to Little Rock for the unveiling of the crest for the new U.S.S. Little Rock.

There will be a commissioning ceremony in November 2016. At that time, the ship will formally join the Fleet and become sovereign U.S. territory wherever she sails.


Little Rock Look Back: The Little Rock Nine finally enter Central High

101st_Airborne_at_Little_Rock_Central_HighIt was 58 years ago today that the Little Rock Nine entered Central High School and stayed. On one hand, this brought to the end a nearly month long standoff between segregationists and those who wanted to obey the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board decision.

In the bigger picture, the struggle did not end that day.  Throughout the remainder of the school year, the Little Rock Nine were subjected to threats, isolation and hostility.  Outside of the school, while the crowds may had dispersed after September 25, the raw feelings did not subside.

This was evidenced by the fact that the following year the high schools were closed to avoid having them integrated.

But September 25, 1957, was an historic day in the United States. Under guard of members of the 101st Airborne Division of the Army, the Little Rock Nine were escorted into Central High School. This action by President Dwight Eisenhower was the result of the intrusive efforts of Governor Orval Faubus who had used the Arkansas National Guard to keep the nine students out.

The City of Little Rock was largely a bystander in this issue. The form of government was changing from Mayor-Council to City Manager in November 1957. Therefore Mayor Woodrow Mann and the entire City Council were lame ducks. Mann, whose son was a senior at Central, tried to focus on keeping the peace in Little Rock. Most (if not all) of his Council members sided with the Governor.

Congressman Brooks Hays, a Little Rock resident, had tried to broker an agreement between the President and the Governor but was unsuccessful.  Following that, Mayor Mann was in discussions with the White House about the ability of the Little Rock Police Department to maintain order.  Finally, in the interest of public safety, the President federalized the National Guard and removed them. This paved the way for the Army to come in.

Though the school year was not easy, the nine youths who became known worldwide as the Little Rock Nine were finally in school.  They were Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton, Governor Mike Huckabee and Mayor Jim Dailey, famously held open the doors of Central High for the Little Rock Nine on the 40th anniversary.  Ten years later, Clinton, Huckabee and Dailey returned joined by current Governor Mike Beebe and Mayor Mark Stodola to host the 50th anniversary events.

Today the school is a National Historic Site, while still functioning as a high school.


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Creative Corridor Banners Unveiled 

  
The designs for the Main Street Creative Corridor banner competition were officially “unveiled” 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, at the parking deck at 2nd and Main streets as artists Stephano and Virmarie DePoyster who created the winning works are introduced.
Also speaking were Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, Downtown Partnership Executive Director Gabe Holmstrom, and Arkansas Arts Center Executive Director Todd Herman.

Funding for the two outside banners and lighting for all three comes from the private foundation ArtPlace. Funding for the middle banner comes from the Little Rock Visitors and Convention Bureau.


More Recognition for Little Rock’s Creative Corridor

PrintA plan to transform four neglected blocks of Main Street in downtown Little Rock into an arts district has earned yet more international recognition.  The University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architect’s plan The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization for Little Rock has won Honorable Mention in Urban Design (Concept) of the International Awards 2015 sponsored by Architecture Podium.

The Creative Corridor retrofits a four-block segment of downtown Main Street through economic development catalyzed by the cultural arts rather than Main Street’s traditional retail base.  The goal is to structure an identity for the Creative Corridor rooted in a mixed-use work-live environment but sensitive to the historical context. The incremental approach employs three developmental phases to transform the corridor space into a downtown node. Planning and design for the Creative Corridor was funded by a 2011 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“This is yet another in a growing line of international, national and regional recognition for the Creative Corridor.  It is a testament to the outstanding design team at the UofA Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architect. I am grateful for their efforts on this project,” said Mayor Mark Stodola.

“I am also appreciative of the outstanding local effort to take this plan and execute it,” Mayor Stodola continued.  “I look forward to seeing the excitement of the arts organizations up and down Main Street with their creative talent literally spilling out on to the sidewalks.”

The Creative Corridor features elements such as marquees, green and low impact development elements, and an art installation made from street lamps of different eras from city neighborhoods.

The Creative Corridor has also received other honors, including a 2014 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, 2013 American Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. It also won a Charter Award in the Neighborhood, District and Corridor category in the 2013 Charter Awards, sponsored by the Congress for the New Urbanism, and it was short-listed for the 2013 World Architecture Festival Awards in the Future Projects – Masterplanning category.

On September 14, at 3:00pm, a ribbon cutting will take place on the Creative Corridor.


Happy Birthday Mayor Stodola

colr_mayor_mark_stodolaToday, May 18, is the birthday of current Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.

Mark Stodola was elected as Mayor for the City of Little Rock, beginning his term in January 2007 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014.  Mayor Stodola has been key in promoting the revitalization of Little Rock’s Main Street, resulting in the City having been awarded a “Greening of America’s Capitals Grant” from the Environmental Protection Agency and an “Our Town Grant” from the National Endowment for the Arts for the creation of an Arts District in the heart of the downtown core.  The UA’s Community Design Center, which includes faculty and staff members from the school, won a 2014 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects for its work on the Creative Corridor, on which it collaborated with Marlon Blackwell Architect of Fayetteville.

Prior to becoming Mayor, he served as a senior partner in the Little Rock Law Firm Catlett & Stodola, PLC.  While at that firm, he served as General Counsel to the Little Rock Airport Commission.   Having previously served the City of Little Rock as its City Attorney for six (6) years, he was elected as Prosecuting Attorney for the 6th District in 1990 and was re-elected again in 1992 and 1994.   Mayor Stodola is Past President of the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Arkansas City Attorneys Association, as well as Past Chair of the Municipal Operations Section of the International Municipal Lawyers Association.  In addition, he is a member of various State, regional and national legal and professional associations.

Mayor Stodola is a graduate of Leadership Greater Little Rock, and served as Chair of Class 16 for that program. In addition, he is a member of the Heights Neighborhood Association and serves as Co-Chair of the Downtown Partnership’s Main Street Task Force.  Mayor Stodola has served on the Board of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre (for which he was the attorney who incorporated the Rep) and is Past-President of the Quapaw Quarter Association and the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.  He has worked with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of Little Rock.

Mayor Stodola graduated from the University of Iowa with a double major in Political Science and Journalism, and received his law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.  Mayor Stodola is married to Jo Ellen and has three (3) children:  a daughter, Allison; and twin sons, Robert and John Mark.


New mural by Matt McLeod dedicated today on Main Street Creative Corridor

Photo taken from a Cranford Co. video shot by Chris Cranford

Photo taken from a Cranford Co. video shot by Chris Cranford

The City of Little Rock in conjunction with the Downtown Little Rock Partnership will hold a ceremony to celebrate the completion of a new piece of public art within the heart of Little Rock’s Main Street Creative Corridor. This large-scale acrylic mural, titled Beneath the Surface by Little Rock local artist Matt McLeod, is located at the corner of Sixth and Main streets.

The 30-foot-by-142-foot mural was painted along the side of the Bennett’s Military Supplies building. More than 30 students from the Urban Garden Montessori School are expected to be in attendance. The mural is located in the same block as the school.

The event will also mark the start of the Main Street Food Truck Fridays at Main Street and Capitol Avenue.

It will take place at 11:30 a.m. In case of rain, the dedication will take place at McLeod Fine Art (108 West Sixth Street).