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.

 

Law, Art, and Pork: The Heart of Little Rock (Day 2, Morning Edition)

After a quick coffee stop to help wake us, we were fortunate enough to visit the Supreme Court of Arkansas.

We met with the public education coordinator, Cara Fitzgerald, who earned her law degree from Southern Illinois University and who passed the bar in at least three states!

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She started the tour by teaching us more about the history of the building. Like the Old State House, the Supreme Court building has undergone changes throughout the years. The first building to house the Supreme Court was actually The Old State House, the second is at the location it is now and then it was remodeled a third time, which is the current building that houses both the Supreme Court and the Appeals Court.

We continued the tour of the west wing, where they display the portraits of the previous justices who have served on the Supreme Court…

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…and as we moved along we were shown the portraits of all seven presiding justices.  The first thing that stood out to some of us was that the majority of the Justices currently on the Supreme Court of Arkansas are women.

After learning more about the current Justices and the recent death of their Chief Justice, Ms. Fitzgerald introduced us to Associate Justice Robin F. Wynne who joined in on the tour! Once in the courtroom, we introduced ourselves to Justice Wynne and he then introduced himself and told us about his journey to becoming a Supreme Court Justice.

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He then asked us the simple most important question that he asks all of his students, “Why do you want to be an attorney?” Many of us had not been asked this question before, which led us to really reflect on why we wanted to go down that career path. Our answers to the question ranged from helping people and having a say in our society to solving puzzles and upholding the law.

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After Justice Wynne was able to get to know us more based on our answers, he and his law clerk, John Webster gave us great advice on how to get the best out of law school.

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John Webster explained to us exactly what a law clerk does and why, if we get the chance, it is an opportunity to take advantage of in law school. They also explained to us what they look for in applicants for their office, and one of the most important things was a “hook”. Justice Wynne explained that he not only looks at grades, but also the substance of the applicants’ character. After the very informational discussion with Justice Wynne and Mr. Webster, they took us on a very personal tour of his office where he explained what his typical week at the office consists of. Oral arguments are on Thursday; opinions are on Wednesday; and Monday and Tuesday are much-needed reading days. Each justice is assigned five cases a week and one of those is considered a primary case in which they take a leadership role. After discussing this process, he showed us the conference chamber where the seven justices meet after oral arguments to talk about the reasons they dissent or support each others’ opinions.

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Justice Wynne even let us take a picture in the conference chamber with him!

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After the private tour, we asked Ms. Fitzgerald how often tour groups get to go up to see the Justices offices and the conference room, to which she replied that she couldn’t recall it ever happening before! We were all extremely grateful for the hospitality that Justice Wynne showed us while teaching us an immense amount about the ins and outs of the Supreme Court of Arkansas.

During the last portion of the tour we dressed in black robes and acted as Justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court. The tour of the Supreme Court of Arkansas was an amazing way to learn more about the court system, and left us all in awe of how great of a time we had while we were visiting. Once everyone had their turn banging the gavel, it was time to go onto our next adventure.

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Our next adventure was the Arkansas Arts Center.  Although  not as large as the major Art Museums, they have a nice permanent collection, much of which was donated by the Rockefellers (Winston Rockefeller was Governor of AR in the 1960s).  The collection contains works by Miro, Picasso, and Monet…

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…among many others.

This time, however, the real treat were the special exhibits.  One featured the photography of Dortothea Lange, the photographer who captured the Great Depression and the plight of the migrant workers so perfectly.

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Another exhibit featured the work of Charles Burchfield, who focused on the mixed blessings of urbanization.

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Both art collections were created near the same time period, but they were very different in medium and subject matter. Charles Burchfield’s art depicted “Industrial Beauty” using watercolor paints. Black Iron, the exhibit centerpiece, was inspired by the port of Buffalo on Lake Erie.

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According to the exhibit, Burchfield saw the bridges as part of an industrial complex spewing poisonous chemicals into the river; yet he found the massive structures irresistibly beautiful.” The paintings and drawings used darker colors to convey emotion.

Dorothea Lange is known for her black and white photography during the Great Depression Era. Each photograph captured emotion that strikes viewers immediately. Her works had great impact on legislation during the time period and even in the way films depicted people of the Great Depression Era. One of her most famous photographs, Migrant Mothers, was showcased along with a variety of other photos that were new to many of us.

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Each person left with a favorite photo from her collection.

A third,  smaller special exhibit featured the work of Nathalia Edenmont, who makes dresses from flowers and other produce.

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This theme tied into a discussion Megan and I have had in our art class, which revolved around the question of whether the Ag Department’s “Floral Design” class should be considered an art class.

The Arkansas Arts Center was the perfect place to learn about a large variety of art because it explained the distinguishing characteristics of each genre. The art ranged from small, detailed, and complex paintings to intricate, colorful, and sometimes puzzling statues.

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Overall, the LEAP Ambassadors enjoyed gaining new knowledge of art in Arkansas.

Lunch was a treat for us avid meat-lovers as we decided to fill our stomachs at The Whole Hog Cafe, a LEAP Center tradition. Catering a country style atmosphere while offering a variety of award-winning meat (as indicated by the line of trophies displayed near the entrance of the cafe), we knew we were going to be satisfied! To get the most out of our experience, we ordered three plates of The Ultimate Platter, which consisted of pulled pork, beef, chicken, ribs as the main course, and coleslaw, beans, potato salad, and rolls as sides.

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Enhancing the overload of finely cooked meat were the six diverse choices of barbecue sauces, ranging from sweet to spicy to slightly tangy.

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Each sauce was unique and each person had a chance to pick a favorite. The top three according to our collective preferences were Sauce No. 1 (sweet, mild, molasses flavor), Sauce No. 3 (spicy, traditional tomato, vinegar flavor) and Sauce No. 5 (sweet, heavy, molasses flavor) tied for 2nd place, while for third was Sauce No. 2 (a less spicy version of Sauce No. 3). We also indulged in the best (according to Alex) chocolate brownies for dessert. The service, the platter, the BBQ sauces and the fun conversations that filled our table made for a great experience at Whole Hog Café.

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