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Calls to act echo at Central High School; marking of 1957 desegregation mixes celebration, politics

By Aziza Musa,Eric Besson and Cynthia Howell Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published September 26, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

former-president-bill-clinton-embraces-carlotta-walls-lanier-one-of-the-little-rock-nine-at-the-end-of-the-commemoration-ceremony-monday-on-the-60th-anniversary-of-desegregation-at-little-rock-central-high-school-another-little-rock-nine-member-onstage-was-elizabeth-eckford-right

Former President Bill Clinton embraces Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the Little Rock Nine, at the end of the commemoration ceremony Monday on the 60th anniversary of desegregation at Little Rock Central High School. Another Little Rock Nine member onstage was Elizabeth Eckford (right).

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Photos by Brandon Riddle

Former President Bill Clinton (center) stands with the remaining members of the Little Rock Nine after a ceremony Monday, the 60th anniversary of thei...

Ernest G. Green gestures to the audience as fellow Little Rock Nine member Gloria Ray Karlmark (left) applauds after Green’s remarks Monday during the...

Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford speaks Monday on the 60th anniversary of desegregation at Little Rock Central High.

Former President Bill Clinton addresses a crowd of nearly 2,000 people Monday at Little Rock Central High.



Former President Bill Clinton and eight of the nine black students who 60 years ago desegregated Central High School -- in what became a defining moment for Little Rock and the nation -- tempered celebration Monday in the midst of national racial discord.

Click here for larger versions
Photos by Brandon Riddle

Former President Bill Clinton (center) stands with the remaining members of the Little Rock Nine after a ceremony Monday, the 60th anniversary of thei...

Ernest G. Green gestures to the audience as fellow Little Rock Nine member Gloria Ray Karlmark (left) applauds after Green’s remarks Monday during the...

Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford speaks Monday on the 60th anniversary of desegregation at Little Rock Central High.

Former President Bill Clinton addresses a crowd of nearly 2,000 people Monday at Little Rock Central High.



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Print Headline: Calls to act echo at Central; Marking of 1957 desegregation mixes celebration, politics

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Mstmblweed says... September 26, 2017 at 7:24 a.m.

I remember vividly writing the following poem September 1957 as an assignment for our Civics class. Every day at 11 AM our 5th grade classroom would listen the news on the radio before being dismissed from class for lunch. We were to write a paragraph about one of the radio broadcasts that week. I wrote this at age 10:
In Little Rock they are having a fight
They are fighting with all their might
The "Blacks" want to go to school
They wish the "Whites" weren't so cruel
At Judgment Day we all will learn
That no one / no race should be spurned

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RBear says... September 26, 2017 at 8:12 a.m.

Nice poem Mstmblweed. Thanks for sharing.

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KimGartman says... September 26, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.

Ironic that the commander-in-chief who chose to look the other way as one million Africans died to genocide would be chosen as an authority on race relations.

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JakeTidmore says... September 26, 2017 at 9:32 a.m.

From ARTimes:
But let me fix one omission.

The D-G article contained quotes from seven of the eight living members of the Little Rock Nine who attended the event. No quote was included from Thelma Mothershed Wair, the retired school teacher who now lives in Little Rock. She was on stage, in a wheelchair. A statement by her was read by her grandson, Gabriel. It said, in part:

"Proliferation of charter schools has given us cause for concern for the future of conventional public education. "
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Note: The Democrat-Gazette, thanks to its publisher, has been an outspoken advocate for the proliferaton of charter schools in the Little Rock School District.
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I noted this, too, in the D-G's coverage: "Some remarks reflected Democratic Party positions in an audience that included some of Arkansas' highest-ranking Republican leaders."
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Democratic Party positions? Implicit and explicit criticism of Donald Trump, yes, particularly when it comes to his racially inflammatory words and deeds, and laments about evidence of persistent inequality. (Is that to say defense of inequality is a Republican position?)
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Who says the ADG doesn't slant its news? Omit quotes they don't like? Ignore speakers they disagree with?
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Thank you MsT. Let's not forget that integration still took several more years to come about after Central High. In Tyler, TX, where I went to public schools, integration didn't start until 1965. And they simply closed down all the black schools as part of making it happen. They knew that no white family was going to send their precious darlings off to a formerly all-black school.
I was in the accelerated, advanced, gifted-talented track. No black students were in our classes. I still wonder why that was.....

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RBear says... September 26, 2017 at 10:12 a.m.

Yes JT, I find when I read a D-G article I have to do additional research to get the full facts. Granted the Ark Times also slants so we get a balance of coverage between the two. It’s just unfortunate that I pay for the slant in support of local news. I could always kill the subscription, but then it would be one more nail in the coffin of local news. I don’t think they get that, but then again they don’t get a lot of things.

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3WorldState1 says... September 26, 2017 at 10:25 a.m.

When I see those pictures with the girls heading to school and those people in the segregationist mob screaming at them...That mob would have been all Trump supporters. Just think about that. That is the GOP base. That mob. Not the entire GOP. The base. Sad indeed.
And yes, if only "Christians" would read their damn bible that are always blabbing about. It's as if they have never even opened it.

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JakeTidmore says... September 26, 2017 at 12:09 p.m.

More from ARTimes on LRSD, history, and charters:
___
Barclay Key, a historian at the University of Arkansas, writes the sad story of the past sixty years here.
It appears that the Walton family wants to turn Little Rock into the next New Orleans, the next Memphis. It wants to wipe out public schools and replace them with charters. It wants to silence the voice of local citizens and give them no role in determining the future of their schools.

Key writes:
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The two most striking parallels between the past and present are the insistence by white leaders that they know what is best for Black families and students and the recurrent role that local white business leaders play in undermining the public school system and prioritizing their prerogatives for the city…

Sixty years ago Little Rock epitomized desegregation struggles in the South, but the city now follows a path worn by New Orleans, Memphis, and other cities wracked by the proliferation of charter schools. Like they have over the past sixty years, politicians and business leaders presume to know what is best for public schools, and their decisions reflect a preoccupation with the latest trends in business rather than research-based pedagogy. The replacement for the elected board, state education commissioner Johnny Key, was appointed by the new Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson despite having no experience as an educator. Key appointed a superintendent who was generally trusted by the city’s white elites, but that superintendent was promptly replaced when he openly criticized the inefficiency of expanding charter schools in a district that has been gradually losing students for years. With the exception of reconstituting one school, the state made no substantive changes at the distressed schools.

“Reflections of Progress” will serve as the theme for the sixtieth anniversary of the desegregation crisis. Things have certainly changed, but the standard is too low if we measure progress by events that unfolded in 1957. Reflecting on progress since 1967 would be more appropriate and sobering. White men again make all decisions for the school district. They act with the support of the Chamber of Commerce and, today, the Walton charter school lobby controlled by the state’s powerful Walton family. Since the state takeover, many of the same bureaucrats have their six-figure salaries. Many of the same children cannot read. Little Rock periodically commemorates the 1957 controversy, but it constantly relives 1967.
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To quote Diane Ravitch:
The Walton Family Foundation is engraved on this blog’s Wall of Shame. It doesn’t stand alone, but it has a place of pre-eminence on a wall that lists those who have used their money and power to betray democracy, public schools, and the American dream.

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drs01 says... September 26, 2017 at 12:41 p.m.

The party is over. Clinton has made another speech. Liberals pissed down their leg. It's back to class at the LRSD's only shining star (LRCHS) where the gifted are shielded from the rabble so that their test scores can be used to prop up the numbers. There's a rush to buy boots for the marching. Crime and poverty prevail. Blame it on the white cops. Charter schools continue to be demonized even though they offer the only hope for so many white and black kids whose parents can't afford to move to surrounding cities or fork out $5-12,000 a year to attend private schools. Just another day in paradise.

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mrcharles says... September 26, 2017 at 2:11 p.m.

DRS01, What if you are wrong?

3worldstate, which bible should we read? The one with the extra books or the one with the missing books. Me I like reading the Shepherd of Hermes but sadly it just didn't make the newer editions.

I did read that church attendance was higher back then when the mobs were screaming at those children- evidently all communist as signs were around that said integration is communism.

mweed, each day is judgment day, you have a choice to be a good person or , be like trump.

Kim, perhaps you should write the vatican as many of their celestial decoders have been accused, indicted and made to stand in the docks of justice for their part in genocide. What efforts have you made in Sudan where black christians are being killed. I say unless you have been anointed like, dont you feel bad in your judgment? Remember in the scripture that was added to the ancient book much later, that the hominoid without sin cast the first stone.

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KimGartman says... September 26, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.

The LRSD is today the product of Henry Woods, John Walker, and Aubrey McCutcheon having their way with $130,000,000 in state funds behind the facade of making the LRSD more white by busing children from their neighborhood to someone else's neighborhood. You can see how that worked out. Now this same John Walker threatens to litigate yet again in supposed support of the very neighborhood schools that he destroyed 25 years ago. It was never about the kids.

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