Saturday, July 11, 2009

Little Rock, Arkansas

I drove over to Little Rock today. Logistically, it was a poor decision not to stay there because the drive from Memphis was 2 1/2 hours each way...a little too much driving for one day.

From a Civil Rights Movement perspective, however, it was a fantastic decision. I visited the Little Rock Central High School National Park (right next door to the famous school...which is still in operation and as beautiful as ever). It was a small, but well-done museum that covered the basics of the Little Rock movement and Little Rock 9. The real treat, however, was walking across the hallowed grounds of Central High. Like so many other historical places I've visited over the years, its extra special to visit a place that you've seen in pictures and have talked about significantly with students. Visiting after reading Melba Patillo's account as one of the Little Rock 9 (Warriors Don't Cry) helped to put the personal impact of an important CRM event into perspective. The Little Rock 9 epitomized the CRM because they were ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Literally putting "their lives on the line" in the name of a cause greater than themselves.

After spending a few hours in the sweltering Arkansas heat (99 degrees and HUMID), visiting the air-conditioned Bill Clinton Presidential Library was a treat. It was really exciting for me on a personal level. I was born in 1978, so I "came of age" in the 1990s. I firmly remember being a 9th grader and showing an interest in Presidential politics for the first time because of the 1992 election. Quite honestly, it was really 3rd party candidate Ross Perot's 30-minute infomercials that got me hooked, and I still remember discussing the election with my parents. I'm still hooked. The Library is a fantastic place, and, in my opinion, its for people from all political perspectives. It does an excellent job of covering the important events of the 1990s and the artifacts really show the personal side of the Presidential life. Surprisingly, however, there was no mention of a certain White House intern that became a household name!!

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