Sunday, November 8, 2015

Little Rock AR Nov 4 2015

Little Rock.

I have known the name since I was very young because when I was in second grade a new school was started on St Croix. It was 1958, only a year after the desegregation crisis at the Little Rock Central High School.  My father was against my attending this new school as he felt the Catholic school I attended was good and that the new school was being started by people who'd recently moved to the island and were not giving local schools a chance.  That race was a factor there is no denying but my best friend would be going, several local teachers and friends of my parents were going to teach there and so it was decided I could go.

The year we opened locals referred to it as "Little Rock." It would be 4 years later, when a family friend who was the first person I knew to leave the island for university became my 6th grade teacher and began to tell us her stories of being black under the Jim Crow laws of the south, that I would begin to understand the significance.  (Ultimately, St John's School would move off the parish grounds and become St Dunstan's the school would serve the entire island community and it would be known as "where Tim Duncan went to high school.")

So, I wanted to see this town.  We started with the downtown area called River Market and headed first for a restaurant since it was lunchtime. What better to have than fried chicken?  Don had baked beans and slaw with his, I had southern potato salad and greens with mine.  Though not the best I have eaten it was good and the restaurant seemed to attract a wide range of customers.  We left the street and walked out to the riverfront.  Not as beautiful as that in Minneapolis, mostly I think because there was so much "going on" with buildings and bridges, the area was filled with people. We saw office workers on lunch break in walking shoes striding along, presumably getting their daily 10,000 steps; a few elderly couples walking about, a group of teens having some laughs about whatever they were discussing and schoolchildren all over.  A group of very young ones were listening intently to a teacher explaining something, while middle schoolers were climbing all over the rocks and a group was playing in one of the large pavilions.  We set off on the sculpture walk that wound along the riverbank and once again my camera was clicking as if I needed to catalogue each piece.  The range was from very modern to very traditional, from whimsical to thought provoking but all beautiful.

Where we ate lunch

I believe this is a razorback :-)



Open Window I didn't get the name of the artist)

Native Knowledge by Denny Haskew

Kids playing on rocks


Breaking the Cycle by Kevin Kresse

Uptown Saturday Night (L) and  Jazz Player (R) by Bryan Massey Sr.

Sisters by Adam Schultz

First Glance by Denny Haskew

Sun by Shelley Buonaiuto

And then nature comes along and does her own show and it's just as/even more beautiful

mural done by school children (R) and Boy Scouts (L)

sidewalk mural

Our plans had been to go out to Little Rock Central High School, which is now a national park, but it was now late enough that we would not be able to spend any more than half an hour there and I did not want it to be a "hit and run" experience. So, though disappointed, we left and I reflected on the fact that history is made up of the stories and events of the past and Little Rock is not the place it was in 1957. We still have a long way to go but we have changed.

As we walked back to the car I noticed the public library.  Along the roofline are the names of writers inscribed.  The names, among others, of Lao Tzu, Thucydides, Plato, Whitman, Shakespeare and Dr Seuss spoke to the past when the likes of Morrison, Hurston, Angelou, Baldwin and Hughes and so many others were not recognized.  But today Little Rock Central High School is one of the best public high schools in the nation and who lives in the neighborhoods in and around the city has more to do with income than race, so the symbols stand only to remind us of the past but not to live in it.

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