Little Rock Central


Little Rock is preparing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation at Little Rock Central High School.

I had the honor of attending Central during my junior year — 1981.

Talk about sense of place. The walls whispered, “Stand tall.”

My friend David played for the Tigers. I went to most games, but didn’t know many of the players — certainly didn’t hang out with the stars. Sorry, David. 😉

Anyway, I remember being hassled in the hallway one time. One single time did a couple of guys try to give me a hard way to go. Marcus Elliott — who went on to play for the Razorbacks — came to my rescue. He put his arm over my shoulder and asked where I was headed. “Hey, that’s where I’m goin’ too.”

So when I think of Little Rock Central, I think of pride, honor, and dignity. I think of the High Steppers doing their thing on the football field. I think of Hall versus Central on Thanksgiving Day.

I can’t wait to read this new book Turn Away Thy Son by Elizabeth Jacoway about the showdown between Ike and Orval that ultimately brought the 101st Airborne to Little Rock so that African American students could enter the building.

Too bad I don’t have it now. I’m bored out of my MIND. Sick with the crud. Thought I could make it to work today. Got half dressed before my legs gave way and the chills sent me back to bed. I’ve listened to a whole audiobook today. And watched wayyyyy too many episodes of Matlock and Simon and Simon.

But I digress. All those years ago, as a 17 year old, I felt that sense of history — that sense of place as I strolled the halls of Central High. It’s exciting to know that I get to be a small part of creating a space that honors such landmark actions across our nation — from James Meredith’s entrance into Ole Miss, to helping Americans want to understand the significance of Bass Reeves’ and Judge Isaac C. Parker’s professional relationship.

The. U. S. Marshals Service National Museum — I’ve said it before — is soooooo much more than a museum or a tourist attraction. It will be a place that whispers to our children, “Stand tall!” The museum will be a place that inspires us all to be something better than, well, a wheezy, coughing, aching piece of human flesh. <cough>

13 thoughts on “Little Rock Central

  1. 1., I *knew* we wuz kindred spirits. I was a junior in ’81.

    2. I visited the Central High museum about 10 years ago — ironically, the same day I found my Confederate great-grandpa’s pension records there at the state whatchamacallit office. (He was from around Clarksville and fit with the 1st Ark. Vol. Infantry, Co. C. Live to be 90-something, died in 1930. My mama remembers him.

  2. Man, we need to getcha hooked up in the historical interp program at UAFS. Hopefully, Mama ER will be over here soon. I want you to meet Tom Wing and Alice Colbert. Your interest in history is sumpthin we need right now. Real bad.


    Go here, dude. This is really big stuff. Next, what if we had an artisan type program — restoration of historic structures. Brick masons, all that other stuff. We have a friend in Gentry who is a restoration guru, renowned all over the world. He’s Smithsonian-qualified.

    The history pieces should come from UAFS or UALR. In Little Rock, they have a museum management program. But I’m tellin ya, where it’s at is historical interpretation. Especially since you’re a writer. You don’t need to mess around with primary and secondary sourcing or go in-depth with preservation. You don’t even need much design or management expertise. You TELL STORIES for a living. You LOVE HISTORY. You know how to make it RELEVANT to today. That’s what historical interpretation is all about — making an intellectual and emotional connection with others. That’s a key link. Crucial to any business plan. If historical interpreters don’t make those connections to visitors, people won’t come back. And the museum will be just another museum. Come help us make this place special. Bring life to it — with your own personal stories about living and working over here in these parts. Tell stories about Mama ER and Daddy ER. The whole family.

    Yeah, I’m all worked up — must be feeling better. This is all gonna be sooooo much FFFFFUN!!!!!

  4. Looks way cool. Dr. ER and I keep wondering if she could get a job where it didn’t matter where we lived, we could go somewhere where i could work on a pee aytch dee — and Fayatville would be awesome. That’s the only way I see me involved at Westark: as an instructor en route to pilin’ it higher and deeper.

  5. In the July 5, 1889, issue of the Fort Smith Elevator (I think I’m ‘membering the date right), is a story about Great-Grandpappy ER gettin’ hisself shot plumb to kingdom come after bustin’ into another man’s house to rescue a boy who had run off, and who Great-Grandpappy ER had taken to raise, and whose daddy had come and stole back after he got big enough to make a hand. Just acrost the river in the Cherokee Nation. Records are in Judge Parker’s court files, now at the National Archives regional joint at Fort Worth. Great-grandpappy ER is buried, all by his lonesome, in what was otherwise a Cherokee Indian burial ground, in some woods off a natural gas lease just north of Old U.S. 64 east of Moffett.

    That’s what got me started on a master’s in history the summer of ought-ought-1. I went lookin; for genealogy and danged if I didn’t find most of my famn dambly in Judge Parker’s court records — and I don’t mean they worked there!

  6. THAT’S why the museum belongs righ’cheer.

    My friend Tom Wing, who is the Director of Historical Interpretation at UA-Fort Smith, is getting his PhD through Stephen F. Austin. It ain’t some schmancy pants high brow program, but it’ll do da trick.

    The UAFS program is gonna grow, what with the museum comin’ and all. Tom’s placed interns at the Smithsonian and all sorts of prestigious places.

    The cool thing bout round here anymores is that you could, say, live at Alma or sommers like dat. Your wife could commute to UAF and you could commute to UAFS. Iffin that’s what a Dr. ER duz.

  7. You may not know, ER, but from Alma, UAF is 40 minutes. UAFS is 20 minutes.

    I have a friend who works at UAF. Her husband owns a FS-based bidness. Happens alllllll da time.

  8. I think YYYYOOOUUUUUUU’RE da one what’s homesick.

    Last time I checked, I had Arkansas tags on my car. That’s all a body needs in life. 😉

  9. beg to differ with you about the stars you hung out with at crappy ol’ Central….. dont’ you recall david was Mr. Punt, Pass & Kick champion (at age 12!)? LOL

    have to say crappy central out of loyality to parkview (before it became a magnet & started sucking in football). 🙂

  10. Yeah, but doesn’t Parkview kick rear in girls’ volleyball and basketball these days? 😉

    And ole David? He’s a legend in his own mind. :p

    Ain’t that what makes him, well, David? 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s