Arkansas Travelers: Day 3 of Little Rock

Our third day on the Little Rock trip promised to be among the most invigorating, with Civil Rights and a little Broadway-themed culture on the agenda.

Little Rock Central High School & Museum – Makayla Mason

After a quick coffee and pasty breakfast from Community Bakery, we were off to our first stop—The Little Rock Central High School Museum. Built in 1927, the Little Rock Central High School cost $1.5 million dollars to construct and, at that time, was named America’s Most Beautiful High School. While still beautiful, the school would bear witness to ugly times. The museum is located just across the street from the school, and although small, it was packed with history and personal stories.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

In 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark Supreme Court case, overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine and called for the desegregation of all schools in the nation. After, the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black children in all-white schools. The NAACP selected nine black students–soon to be referred to as the “Little Rock Nine”–to register at the all-white Little Rock Central High School.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

The Little Rock Nine were Melba Pattillo, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray, Carlotta Walls, Thelma Mothershed, Terrence Roberts, and Jefferson Thomas. These nine teenagers didn’t know it at the time, but they would be famous for their bravery in the face of adversity.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

In Arkansas, many people believed that the schools should stay segregated and that the national government should not be able to decide how to run the schools. Word spread that there would be protesters that would try to physically block the black students from entering Little Rock Central High School. When the Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus heard of the potential protests, he ordered–under the guise of “safety”–officials to prevent black students from entering the school.

September 3, 1957 was the first day of class, and a mob formed outside Little Rock Central High School. On September 4, the Little Rock Nine attempted to enter the school, but the Arkansas National Guard did not permit them entrance.

It took over two weeks for the Little Rock Nine to actually step foot inside of the school. They were each escorted by the Little Rock Police, while an angry mob screamed, spit, pushed, threw bricks, and hit people with bats.

“The harder they fought to keep me out, the more determined I was to finish and get my diploma.” – Jefferson Thomas, Little Rock Nine

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

The rioting worsened in the next few days and on September 24, President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent 1,200 troops (the 101st Airborne) to Little Rock.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

With the support of the troops and federal officials, the Little Rock Nine could finally go into school safely–although they still faced hostility from students.

“I got up every morning, polished my saddle shoes, and went off to war.” – Melba Pattillo, Little Rock Nine

On May 25, 1958 Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine graduated from Little Rock Central High School.  The other eight soon followed, and all turned into successful professionals.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

The museum  touched on diverse aspects of civil rights, paying respect to other groups that faced repression and unequal treatment.  There were small tributes to Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and other important figures of the civil rights movement.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

After enjoying the museum, we walked across the street and took pictures in front of the famous high school.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

We admired how beautiful the building was and discussed what it was like to stand where the “Little Rock Nine” once stood.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

With much to reflect on, we headed to lunch, where we could further discuss the progress on–and obstacles to–civil rights.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Little Rock Central High Museum, Little Rock Nine

Whole Hog Café- Miranda Estrada

Whole Hog Café formed after three friends Mike “Sarge” Davis, Ron Blasingame, and Steve Lucchi proved to be successful hobbyist cooks. The three won the 2002 Memphis-in-May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest for “Best Ribs.” What started as a small concession trailer grew to become a must-eat restaurant at Little Rock.SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Whole Hog Cafe

As we walked in, we were greeted with hogs –everywhere. After ordering, we sat at our table and were excited to test try the six different barbecue sauces. They ranged in flavor and style, ensuring that everyone was bound to at least enjoy one. A common favorite the table could agree on was the Sauce #2: Tangy and Slightly Spicy, and Sauce #5: Sweet & Bold.

It was only right that we tried each meat offered: signature sausage, chopped and sliced brisket, chicken, pulled pork, and the much-loved ribs.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Whole Hog Cafe

For our sides we chose baked beans, mac & cheese, cheesy corn, and potato salad.

The food was wonderful, with the ribs, the chopped brisket, and the pulled pork being the favorites–all of which were soaked in the #2 or #5 BBQ sauces.  The potato salad and beans were also wonderful.  So wonderful, in fact, that we overate and had to find a way to re-invigorate for a full afternoon and evening of education.

MacArthur Museum- Maggie Denena

We had to split up the group in the afternoon because our main attraction–Wicked–did not have sufficient tickets remaining to fit us all into one show.  So….we dropped off Esme and Miranda to the matinee show, while the rest of LEAP headed to the MacArthur Museum of Military History.

Named in honor of Douglas MacArthur, the Museum highlights Arkansans’ roles in the various wars in American history, while also illuminating MacArthur’s accomplishments.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, MacArthur Museum of Military History

Before he even reached the age of 23, MacArthur had already distinguished himself as a military prodigy, graduating as the valedictorian for West Texas Military Academy and graduating top of his class at West Point. Following WWI, MacArthur returned to West Point as the school’s youngest superintendent since 1817. He restored student morale following World War I by revolutionizing the curriculum and campus life.

In June 1923, MacArthur assumed command of the 23rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Division, and by January 1925, Douglas MacArthur became the Army’s youngest major general. Before being promoted to general in 1941, Roosevelt named MacArthur commander of the United States Army Forces in the Far East. A brilliant strategist and leader, MacArthur was instrumental in winning WWII for the Allies.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, MacArthur Museum of Military History

The museum featured several levels of American Military History, starting with the Civil War and ending with Vietnam. I particularly enjoyed any and all exhibits on WWI & WWII, but I also enjoyed learning more about the Civil War (after visiting the Old Mill from “Gone with the Wind”) and the showcases of Civil War era guns and ammunition.

Apart from specific wars, we learned more about the Jeep’s role in military history…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, MacArthur Museum of Military History

…had a chance to see what a portable altar kit for a Chaplain consisted of….

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, MacArthur Museum of Military History

…and learned much about the role of the media during wartime.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, MacArthur Museum of Military History

Armed with all sorts of new information about military history…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, MacArthur Museum of Military History

…we headed back to the hotel to fight evil: or, at least watch it, in the evening showing of Wicked!

Wicked- Quinn Kobrin

We couldn’t have been happier with the performance of Wicked, which was featured at the Robinson Center Music Hall in Little Rock.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Wicked, Steven Schwartz

Full of references to the classic American film, The Wizard of Oz, Wicked is the musical prequel that tells the tale of how the characters of Oz came to exist as we know them.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Wicked, Steven Schwartz

Focusing on the film’s villain, the Wicked Witch of the West, the show features a message that we found apt considering the rest of our day’s itinerary. Reminded this morning of the history of Little Rock Central High School, of the importance of being tolerant and accepting, we found ourselves immersed tonight in a tale about accepting who you are, regardless of how others may view you. Keeping with our day’s theme of identity and perception, the story of Wicked provided us with a heartfelt depiction of the dangers of mob mentality, the importance of seeking the truth, and the value of overcoming injustice.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Wicked, Steven Schwartz

Beyond the message of the story, the show’s production was superb. The songs were sung with power and gusto; the choreography was exciting and picturesque. The set and costumes were phenomenal and creative, immersing us into the world of Oz. Overall, the LEAP Ambassadors enjoyed the show, and we applaud the mastery of Stephen Schwartz, who composed the memorable and groundbreaking music of Wicked.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Little Rock AR, Wicked, Steven Schwartz

After the show, we headed back to our hotel to eat our last meal of the day. We enjoyed three different flavors of pizzas, including a vegetarian pizza, a meat-lovers pizza, and muffaletta pizza from Vino’s Brewpub. With our satisfied dinner and the amazing show by Wicked, we were off the bed to rest for our last and busiest day.

 

Ten Years of Local Photography at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum

Although the SHMM’s 10th annual Photography Contest conflicted with our meeting time, we made some arrangements so we could once again see what the community had to offer, photographically speaking.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambasaddaors, Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Casey Roon, Amateur Photography Contest

The photo contest, created by Curator of Exhibits Casey Roon, gives non-professional photographers an opening to showcase their work. Each photo submitted was placed accordingly in five different categories—Abstract, Pets, Architecture, Face/Figures, and Nature. Winners were also given the opportunity to receive cash for their amazing work!

In front of an audience of about 75, Roon discussed the contest and announced the winners.  The Best in Show winner was Victoria Pieczynski in the ‘Nature’ category, while the Reserve winner was John Rogers in the ‘Architecture’ category.  A list of all winners is below:

Faces/Figures: (1) Sarah Wolsky, (2) Jerome Hunter, and (3) Kyra Aftosmes
Pets: (1) Lynette Dobbins, (2) Lynette Dobbins, and (3) Seth McAdow
Abstract: (1) Gary Readore, (2) Beth Gray, (3) Wanda Smith
Nature: (1) Victoria Pieczynski, (2) Sam Beard, (3) Gary Readore

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambasaddaors, Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Casey Roon, Amateur Photography Contest

Architecture: (1) John Rogers, (2) Kya Aftosmes, (3) Robert Mendoza
Best in Show: (1) VIctoria Pieczynski and (2) John Rogers
Curator’s Choice Winners: (1) Casey Mathis, (2) John Seitz, (3) Tonya Seitz, (4) Darelene Lee, (5) Sami Soukup, (6) Kyra Aftosmes, (7) Wanda Smith, (8) Veronica Lorine, (9) Lynette Dobbins, (10) Katherine Hubbard, (11) Jessie Smith, (12) Rhonda Jensen, (13) Barbara Lutzmann, (14) Sam Beard, (15) Judy Volper, (16) Morgen Clements, (17) Bianca Catungal, (18) Veronica Lovine, and (19) Sam Beard.

We enjoyed looking over the photos and comparing them to photos we take.  By reviewing the winning photos (and other, interesting photos that didn’t win), we were able to get some tips on how to improve our own work.

We spent some time with our favorite photos…

..and more importantly spent time talking to our friends, Mac and Leanne Woodward, Derek Birdsall, Megan Buro, and Casey Roon, before heading to our meeting.

 

Texas Tribune Festival, Day 1

Thursday, 9-27-2019

We piled in the car and headed west to Austin, too early to be considered a ride off into the sunset, but with plenty of time to make it to our destination: the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival.  The three-hour trip from Huntsville went by quickly, as our group of LEAP Ambassadors and friends chatted along the way, sharing life and prior travel experiences.

The festival hub wasn’t too far from the hotel, and with a coolish breeze, we chose to walk, meandering through the Capitol grounds on the way…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin Texas

….but without any prolonged stopping – we needed to check in at TribFest before attending the opening keynote, by Congressman Will Hurd.  We were pleasantly surprised with no waiting in line to get our credentials.

Once we crossed the street toward the Paramount Theater, though, we became immediately aware that, despite leaving what we thought was adequate time, we were most likely not going to see the inside.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin Texas

The line stretched out along the entire block, around the corner, and then up and around the next block.  We trudged to the end, mainly because it was uphill and afforded a better picture of the line.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Tribune Festival, Representative Will Hurd

We commiserated with our nearby co-queuers, then decided to take in some of downtown Austin by foot, and find an early dinner.

We stopped at Second Bar + Kitchen on Congress & Second.  Everything looked good on the menu, and we selected a variety: crispy brussells sprouts, black truffle pommes frites, pepperoni soup…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin Texas, 2nd Kitchen

…a couple of pizzas: black + bleu and eggplant + goat cheese (hold the goat!)…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Tribune Festival, Representative Will Hurd

…and a couple of Congress burgers.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin Texas, 2nd Kitchen

No one was dissatisfied – and no one had room for dessert, a shame.

An after-dinner walk was an easy group decision.  And since we were so close, we had to detour down to the Congress Avenue Bridge. We were too late to see the bats up close, or the sunset, but we could see clouds of bats in the distance, making their way to get their own dinner.  We started the slower climb uphill back to our hotel, stopping along the way to briefly check out the wonderfully weird architecture of Austin’s City Hall…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin City Hall

…and a brief stop by Austin City Limits, another monument to the city’s long history of promoting great, local music.

After a brief review of tomorrow’s early-morning plans, we retired earlier than the “LEAP Trip” usual time.  We will need the rest for the next two days of politics, politics, and more politics at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival!