Friday, September 18, 2015

Good day in Little Rock

On 9/16/15, I had the pleasure of speaking at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, AR—my first time in the state. For fear of an influx, someone asked me not to mention how beautiful the area is, but the real secret is how Arkansans can believe that is still a secret?

The school is a large place. Perhaps I should say it is a mega place—part of the facilities used to be a megachurch. The part where I spoke:

It is so mega that none other than Superman and Batman were there on patrol:

I was in and out of LR in a day, but made time to visit the site of a great if tragic example of courage: Little Rock Central High School, made infamous in 1957 when the Little Rock Nine (nine black students) were refused entry despite the fact that segregated schools were declared unconstitutional three years earlier. I was so eager to see it that I went straight from the airport. The school is majestic, the grounds are immaculate, and the significance of it all is palpable. I spent a good amount of time in quiet reflection. What was once a bad day in Little Rock led to a good day for me.

However, I knew little detail of that pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. So after absorbing the aura of the place itself, I binged on historical info about it.

A photo recap of my time there:

 Ten benches surround the reflecting pool (which was there
before 1957)—one each for the Little Rock Nine, 
and a tenth for all other LRCHS students.

 Elizabeth was the Little Rock Niner being screamed at

 I thought it curious that one bench was donated by 
multiple classes...separated by 50 years.

 Zooming in on this bench (which is not one of the ten
surrounding the reflecting pool)... see that it was gifted by the Silhouettes, but in 1954— 
three years before the school was thrust into the spotlight 
and the singing group had their one chart hit (“Get a Job”).

 The memorial garden across the street from the school,
dedicated two weeks after another national tragedy.

 Panorama: school, garden, visitors’ center.

 Vintage, spotless gas station across the street from the school.

 Statue of the Little Rock Nine in front of the state capitol.

Thank you to Regina Stipsky for bringing me in, Jacob Harris for helping to keep me company, and the Little Rock Nine for taking a stand for the greater good. You were not trying to make history. You simply did what you felt to be right. For that you became heroes.

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