We visited Little Rock Central High School today. It’s actually a National Historic Site with a visitors center and everything! You can register to take a tour led by a park ranger that takes you into the historic high school built in 1927, which is still an active high school today with a student body of about 2500.
We first stopped at the visitor’s center where we stamped our Passport Book and also bought the sticker for the historic site to put in our book.
We roamed around the exhibit area which was very nicely done with lots of hands on activities and full of information and pictures.
Then we watched the 21 minute video which gave us a good glimpse at what the 9 students went through just to receive a better education than what they would have at their ‘original’ high school.
Our tour guide, Ranger Toni, had been working at the high school for 3 years and was a fountain of information.
I don’t think either Michael or I really knew much about the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock before today. Certainly we’d heard of it…but didn’t really know the details.
Back then schools were segregated – blacks had their schools and whites had theirs. The time came to end that in Little Rock in 1957. There were about 200 black students who volunteered to transfer to Central High School as their was more opportunity for a better education there.
The requirements were very tough and those 200 were whittled down to less that 20 that were accepted. That number dropped down to even less due to one reason or another and eventually the number was at 10. That number stuck until the first day of school when they attempted to go to school and their picture was in the paper. The employer of the child’s parents saw the picture and told the parents that if their child continued they would be fired. They were now down to nine children integrating into Little Rock’s Central High School. They are now known as the Little Rock Nine.
The Little Rock Nine’s integration into Central High school caused riots and degradation for the nine students but they persevered and made it through the school year…with one of them being a senior and graduating.
We had a dinner date down by the river at 5:00 pm and were early so we walked along the river front and hunted for Little Rock’s Little Rock…and found it!
The rock was originally part of a much larger rock that was blown apart in the late 1800s to make way for the Junction Bridge (a train bridge) which is now a pedestrian bridge.
What you see now is just the tip of the original rock that someone saved and eventually a plaque was bolted to it and has now become the landmark that it is!
The rock sits in a pretty little park-like area along the riverfront, beside the Junction Bridge. We found a park bench in the shade and enjoyed the views of the river and beautiful weather. We’ve certainly been blessed with gorgeous weather while we’ve been here in Arkansas.
We’d been contacted by Victoria a week or so ago when she found out we’d be in the area and asked if we wanted to get together…of course! She and Prentiss are working as gate attendants at a Corps of Engineers park nearby.
We know Victoria and Prentiss from gate guarding. While I’ve met Victoria and Michael had met Prentiss at luncheons…I’d never met Prentiss and Michael and never met Victoria.
Our dinner turned into 3+ hours full of conversation and laughter. We have so much in common – gate guarding, camphosting, RVing, military, etc that the conversation flowed very easily.
We all agreed that the food was delicious. We all ordered different meals, however. Prentiss went with oysters, Victoria had salmon, Michael had frog legs and I had jumbo shrimp. Another place to recommend…if/when you’re in Little Rock…Go!
The Flying Fish is also the home to the Billy Bass Adoption Center. You’ll find TONS of those darn irritating talking fish hung on the walls within the restaurant. Thank goodness the batteries have all been removed! (Michael tried!) While we were there we even witnessed two men who brought in their very own Bill Basses to be adopted by the restaurant. Awwww…