PLSC Civil Rights Pilgrimage Day 2

 

Little Rock Central High School was a good first experience for this trip I think. It was a good way to dip our toes in the movement. It wasn’t heavy or tragic, and the fact that the highschool was still functioning to this day stands a testament to the movement as a whole. The high school stands even after Jim Crow culture crumbled; that is not something you can say about other parts of society that have been desegregated—food halls, city neighborhoods, public transportation. The thing that really struck me the most was the high school’s status as a National Historic Site. There is so much history from the Civil Rights Movement that I feel like is under threat now. I wanted to ask the Park Ranger about his job now under the current administration.He said he had only been working there for 8 or 9 months, and I wonder if he feels similarly tome. I feel like this history of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as other important but controversial parts of our history, are in danger of being erased and rewritten. I also knew about the battle to rewrite American history to erase the struggles of many minorities, but it didn’t feel real until I was standing in front of the high school. Ambition, opportunity, personality, and preparation are important, but what about learning from our past mistakes? What will they say in40 years about the Little Rock Nine? Will they still remember them? History is told by the victors, and I don’t feel like a victor right now. The William J Clinton Presidential Center was amazing. I am a big fan of Bill and Hillary, more of Hillary than Bill, and I was looking forward to going to the Presidential Center ever since I heard we were going to Little Rock. I really enjoyed the movie and all the different artifacts from Bill’s presidency. Conversely, it was interesting to see how he and his library have portrayed certain parts of his presidency. Of course, the center is going to present a particularly pro-Clinton version of events, but it made think of the other presidential narratives that surround the Civil Rights movement like Lyndon B Johnson, Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, and evenAbraham Lincoln. It was interesting how the library emphasized the successes Clinton had inHaiti and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But democracy and human rights barely hang on by a thread and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict still rages on. I also was displeased with the lack of attention placed on Hillary in the library. I feel like her role in the White House and helping Bill were very compartmentalized compared to how Bill describes how influential she was to his life.I really enjoyed taking my picture in the replica of the Oval Office. Professor Jordan said something along the lines of “we’ll never have that kind of decorum or at least not for a long time” and I have to agree after spending time exploring the Presidential Center.

Song: NY State of Mind, Pt. II – Nas