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).

Women Making History – The Mount Holly Cemetery Association

Instead of featuring one woman, today’s entry focuses on scores of women. The Mount Holly Cemetery Association has been protecting, preserving, and promoting Mount Holly Cemetery for over 100 years. The organization was empowered with these roles by the Little Rock City Council at a time when women still did not have the right to vote.

The Mount Holly Cemetery is a treasure trove of history, architecture and horticulture on the edge of downtown Little Rock.  It was established in 1843 when Chester Ashley and Roswell Beebe donated the land to the city of Little Rock. Feeling the town fathers were not giving the cemetery the attention it deserved, a group of Little Rock businessmen formed a cemetery commission on March 20, 1877. Charter members of the commission were J. H. Haney, Fay Hempstead, James Austin Henry, Philo O. Hooper, and Frederick Kramer. However the private group of men did no better in maintaining the cemetery.

In 1914, a contingent of the town’s women became critical of the cemetery’s unkempt appearance and took over the reins from the men. Following adoption of City Ordinance No. 2199 in June 1915, the ladies’ Mount Holly Cemetery Association was incorporated on July 20, 1915. (It should be noted this action by the women came at a time when women did not have the right to vote.)

The Mount Holly Cemetery Association grew out of a meeting which took place on June 9, 1914 at the home of Mrs. A. H. Scott. Thirty-six women gathered for the purpose of improving the cemetery.

An executive committee was formed, and the women started working on improvements to the cemetery. Though first viewed by some men as an auxiliary to the Cemetery Commission, it quickly became apparent that the women were in no mood to take a back seat in matters pertaining to Mount Holly.

The first executive board (from June 1914 to July 1915) included Mrs. A. H. Scott, Mrs. B. S. Johnson, Mrs. George Thornburgh, Mrs. Moorhead Wright, Mrs. H. M. Bennett, Mrs. George Worthen, Mrs. W. E. Green, Mrs. George Stratman, Miss Louise Gibson and Miss Clara Hotze.

The July 1915 incorporators were Mrs. Scott as well as Julia E. Bennett, Eva C. Shields, Rosa M. Miller, Ruby P. Ratcliffe and Marguerite R. English. Mrs. Bennett, known affectionately as “Scrap” would serve as the first president, and Miss Miller was the first secretary.

Over the years the Association has undertaken countless projects large (construction of a mausoleum) and small (signs on the lanes) to improve Mount Holly Cemetery for its residents and for visitors.

In 1993, the Association published a history of the first 150 years of the cemetery.  More recently, they launched the annual RIP (Rest in Perpetuity) picnic held the last Sunday in April on the grounds.  They have also published a cookbook–Recipes in Perpetuity.

Today, the Mount Holly Cemetery Association is still going strong!

Women Making History – Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton

Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton made history as the first African American student to attend each high school year at and graduate from Little Rock Central High School.  But her impact on history exceeds that and extends into classrooms throughout Arkansas.

After a career which took her from elementary classrooms to corporate boardrooms, Dr. Hampton returned to Little Rock in 1996 to become the President of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.  In that capacity, she oversaw many opportunities to broaden the ways the arts and humanities were used in classrooms and outside of classrooms.  Dr. Hampton led the WRF until her retirement in 2006.  Through her vision and leadership, many tens of thousands of dollars of support went to cultural institutions and organizations during her decade at the helm.

In the mid-2000s, following the unexpected death of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s executive director, Dr. Hampton served as acting executive director of the ASO while a national search could be conducted.  She had long been a supporter of the ASO and other cultural institutions as a patron.

During the Central High Integration 60th Anniversary, Dr. Hampton served as emcee of the Commemoration Ceremony.  A few months later, she received one of the LRCH Tiger Foundation’s first Award of Excellence. She has also been honored by inclusion in the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail and the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

She continues to be involved with Little Rock’s cultural life through her involvement in the Mount Holly Cemetery Association. She is a tireless advocate for this living museum of Little Rock’s past.

Last year, she was was interviewed by The HistoryMakers.  Recently, she was featured at Robinson Center when the public radio program “The Moth” recorded a show there.  L

 

Stories of moments that changed lives are the focus of The Moth tonight from Robinson Center stage

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The Moth, a nonprofit based in New York City dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, is in Little Rock tonight! (February 28)

Robinson Center Performance Hall will play host to The Moth’s Mainstage event featuring storytellers as they take the stage to share a true, sometimes heartwrenching, story about their life.

Get ready for an evening of stories, shared live at Robinson Center Performance Hall as five storytellers, several of whom are very well known locally and nationally, take the stage and share a true, personal story from their life:  joy and heart, in equal measures. Stories of glory and defeat, taunting fate, laughing in the face of danger, and the moments that forever changed the course.

Doors open at 6:30pm.  Storytelling begins at 7:30pm.

Storytellers:
Alistair Bane
Korto Momolu Briggs
Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton
Monte Montepare
Danusia Trevino 

Purchase your tickets here.

The Storytellers:

Alistair Bane is a citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Nation of Oklahoma and currently resides in Denver Colorado. Besides being a storyteller he is also a visual artist. He makes dance regalia, quilts and paints. In 2016 he was a resident artist for the Denver Art Museum’s Native American Arts Program. In his spare time he enjoys rehabilitating feral rez dogs, which is a much more relaxing hobby than it might sound like, as long as you don’t mind a tiny bit of growling.

Korto Momolu Briggs  Liberian-born fashion designer and stylist Korto Momolu (pronounced Cut • Toe – Mo • Mo • Lu) is stamping her global brand on fashion-forward women’s wear and accessories. Korto is inspired by her African roots and celebrate the essence of her rich heritage through the use of traditional, luxury fabrics; skins; mixed prints, etc. A graduate of the L’Academies des Couturiers Design Institute in Ottawa, Ontario, Korto also studied at the renowned Parsons School of Design in New York City while working as an independent fashion designer. Prior to arriving in Canada in 1990, Korto and her family had to flee Liberia following a civil war. In 2014, she competed on the third season of Project Runway All Stars and finished in second place. Most recently, Korto unveiled her spring/summer 2019 collection during New York Fashion Week – which was a tribute to her late friend, and former Project Runway All Stars castmate, Mychael Knight, who passed in 2017. Momolu was highlighted as a ‘Top 5 Designers to Watch’ by New York Magazine, and presently makes her home with her husband and two children in Little Rock, Arkansas.

 Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, Ed. grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and was a member of the second class of African American students entering Little Rock Central High School in 1959. Dr. Hampton has participated in numerous professional and civic organizations over the years, including the Georgetown Foundation for Educational Excellence and the Eastern Association of College Deans and Advisors of Students. Some of Dr. Hapton’s awards include 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award, Teachers College, Columbia University; 2017 Award of Excellence and the Little Rock Central High School Tiger Foundation. Her latest professional pursuits center on consulting with foundations, nonprofits and colleges/universities, public speaking, and volunteering in her home community

Monte Montepare is a comedian, storyteller and improviser originally from Breckenridge, Colorado. For the last year he has been performing regularly in the thriving Denver comedy scene. Prior to that, Monte spent a decade guiding wilderness adventures in remote Alaska and is co-owner of Kennicott Wilderness Guides. He recently moved to Los Angeles to study at the UCB theatre. Monte’s a 3x Moth StorySLAM winner and has performed at The Moth GrandSLAM in Los Angeles.

Danusia Trevino is an actress and a storyteller. Born and raised in Poland. She toured the United States and Europe with the New York City band FUR. As an actress, she performed with the Black Lips Performance Cult and Anohni ( Pyramid Club and PS122) SITI Company (NATL tour) HB Ensemble (HBPF) Solo show
( 59E59st, Theater Row, TNC, Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Most recently she performed with The Wooster Group in A Pink Chair at the Performing Garage and with Nowy Teatr (Warsaw) also at the Performing Garage. Film work: Acts of Worship, Where is Joel Baum, Metamorphosis, and Xenophilia. Web series: The Louise Log.
She was a part of the New York literary salon, Women of Letters and at Joe’s Pub and appeared at Cornelia Street Cafe’s Liar’s Show. A Moth double Grand SLAM winner, she lives with her husband Xavier in Washington Heights.

LR Women Making History: Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton

Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton made history as the first African American student to attend each high school year at and graduate from Little Rock Central High School.  But her impact on history exceeds that and extends into classrooms throughout Arkansas.

After a career which took her from elementary classrooms to corporate boardrooms, Dr. Hampton returned to Little Rock in 1996 to become the President of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.  In that capacity, she oversaw many opportunities to broaden the ways the arts and humanities were used in classrooms and outside of classrooms.  Dr. Hampton led the WRF until her retirement in 2006.  Through her vision and leadership, many tens of thousands of dollars of support went to cultural institutions and organizations during her decade at the helm.

Following the untimely death of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s executive director, Dr. Hampton served as acting executive director of the ASO while a national search could be conducted.  She had long been a supporter of the ASO and other cultural institutions as a patron.

During the Central High Integration 60th Anniversary, Dr. Hampton served as emcee of the Commemoration Ceremony.  She continues to be involved with Little Rock’s cultural life through her involvement in the Mount Holly Cemetery Association. She is a tireless advocate for this living museum of Little Rock’s past.

Central to Creativity – Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton

Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton made history as the first African American student to attend each high school year at and graduate from Little Rock Central High School.  But her impact on history exceeds that and extends into classrooms throughout Arkansas.

After a career which took her from elementary classrooms to corporate boardrooms, Dr. Hampton returned to Little Rock in 1996 to become the Executive Director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.  In that capacity, she oversaw many opportunities to broaden the ways the arts and humanities were used in classrooms and outside of classrooms.  Dr. Hampton led the WRF until her retirement in 2006.  Through her vision and leadership, many tens of thousands of dollars of support went to cultural institutions and organizations during her decade at the helm.

Following the untimely death of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s executive director, Dr. Hampton served as acting executive director of the ASO while a national search could be conducted.  She had long been a supporter of the ASO and other cultural institutions as a patron.

During the Central High Integration 60th Anniversary, Dr. Hampton served as emcee of the Commemoration Ceremony.  She continues to be involved with Little Rock’s cultural life through her involvement in the Mount Holly Cemetery Association. She is a tireless advocate for this living museum of Little Rock’s past.