Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


Anne Frank Tree exhibit to be dedicated today at Clinton Center

AnneFrankTreeThe Clinton Foundation and the Sisterhood of Congregation B’nai Israel, in conjunction with the Anne Frank Center USA, have joined together to create a new powerful exhibit, The Anne Frank Tree, which will be located on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Park.  The permanent installation, which will surround the Anne Frank Tree sapling, will open today.

In 2009, the Clinton Center was one of 11 entities in the United States to be awarded a young chestnut tree by the Anne Frank Center USA’s “Sapling Project.” The sapling was taken from the white horse chestnut tree that stood outside Anne Frank’s Secret Annex when she and her family were in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. The young writer cherished and wrote about the tree frequently in her famous diary.

“As long as this exists,” Anne wrote on February 23, 1944, “how can I be sad?” During the two years she spent in the Secret Annex, the solace Anne found in her chestnut tree provided a powerful contrast to the Holocaust unfolding beyond her attic window. And as war narrowed in on Anne and her family, her tree became a vivid reminder that a better world was possible.

Anne’s tree would outlive its namesake by more than 50 years before being weakened by disease and succumbing to a windstorm in 2010. But today, thanks to dozens of saplings propagated in the months before its death, Anne’s tree lives on in cities and towns around the world. The Anne Frank tree saplings provide an opportunity for these sites to tell the story of Anne Frank and connect it to incidents of injustice witnessed in each locale. To date, seven saplings have been planted at locations as diverse as the U.S. Capitol and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

The Center’s installation consists of five framed, etched glass panels – arranged to evoke the feeling of being inside a room – surrounded by complementary natural landscaping. The two front panels feature quotes from Anne Frank and President Clinton. The three additional panels will convey the complex history of human rights in Arkansas through descriptions of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis of 1957. These panels will feature quotes from Chief Heckaton, hereditary chief of the Quapaw during Arkansas’ Indian Removal; George Takei, Japanese-American actor who was interned at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County in 1942; and Melba Patillo Beals, member of the Little Rock Nine.

In collaboration with the Clinton Foundation, Little Rock landscape architect Cinde Drilling and Ralph Appelbaum Associates, exhibit designer for both the Center and The National Holocaust Museum, assisted in the design of the exhibit. The installation has been made possible thanks to the support of the Ben J. Altheimer Charitable Foundation and other generous partners.

The Center’s sapling is currently housed in a local nursery where it is acclimating to Arkansas’s environment. And although it will be present during the ceremony, it will be returned to the nursery where it will be cared for until it has matured and can thrive in its new home, located on the grounds of the Park. A similar chestnut tree will be temporarily planted in its place until the Anne Frank tree can be permanently transplanted.

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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.


Little Rock Look Back: 57 Years since 1957

101st_Airborne_at_Little_Rock_Central_HighIt was 57 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.


Little Rock Look Forward: LR 9 Foundation establishes Clinton School Scholarship

clinton-school-logoThough normally there are “Little Rock Look Back” posts, this one is truly more a look to the future.

Today the Little Rock Nine Foundation, which has awarded scholarships to deserving young people for the past 16 years, has set up a scholarship fund at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service to continue the foundation’s legacy. The Foundation was established in 1997 and since that time has awarded 60 college scholarships to high school students all over the United States.

“Because of our great appreciation for President Clinton, and in recognition of the extraordinary public service work performed by Clinton School students, we have now decided to make the Clinton School our educational philanthropic focus,” said Carlotta Walls Lanier, the foundation’s spokesperson. “The Clinton School prepares its students in the global arena and what better way to keep our story alive than through those we assist.”

Nine African American students–Lanier, Melba Pattillo Beals, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Terrence Roberts, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Thelma Mothershed Wair and the late Jefferson Thomas became known as the Little Rock Nine when they integrated  Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The resistance of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus and protests by large groups of segregations forced the intervention of President Dwight Eisenhower who the sent the military’s finest, the 102 Airborne Division, to protect the students.

It was an historical moment and was the first the time the President of the United States sent the military to enforce a United States Supreme Court order, in this case the historic Brown v. The Board of Education decision.

“We are honored and are most grateful to the Little Rock Nine for the establishment of this scholarship fund,” said Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford. “Over the years the Little Rock Nine–as a group and individually–have participated in Clinton School programs and met with our students. Spirit Trickey, the daughter of Minnijean Brown Trickey, is one of our graduates.”

The Clinton School is the nation’s first to offer a Master of Public Service (MPS) degree. It is located on the campus of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in downtown Little Rock.


Sculpture Vulture: TESTAMENT

Today’s highlighted sculpture sits on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol.  Testament honors the Little Rock Nine who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

The statues face the Arkansas State Capitol including the Governor’s Office. The irony is that, in 1957, then-Governor Orval Faubus led the efforts to keep Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Carlotta Walls from entering the school.

Dedicated in August 2005, Testament was created by John Deering working with Kathy Deering and Steve Scallion.  The project was over seven years in the making from the original concept to the  unveiling.

The bronze sculptures are life-size and depict the students moving forward.  They are dressed in school clothes and carry their books.  Around the perimeter of the sculpture is a series of quotes, one from each of the nine.

(It is appropriate to discuss this sculpture today, since the Oscars are presented tonight (2/26/12). The 1964 Oscar for Best Documentary — Short Subject was awarded for the film Nine from Little Rock.)