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>