Little Rock Central: 50 years later

I know some of us are tired of hearing about black people. I know some of us are tired of talking about racism. “Oh, no!” Why don’t they just shut up about it!” “Hasn’t it been over for a long time now?” “That justs happens in the south!” “Didn’t they get affirmative action?” “I’d rather hear about the holocaust or women!” “Why are they so negative?”

But I promise, you will not be dissapointed if you watch this HBO special. And for those of you that haven’t watched it, it’s a reunion that marks the 50 year anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central. This school (like most others) was segregated until the 1955 Brown vs. Board law passed which lifted the segregation band on all schools. Although the law was lifted, racial tension was at it’s highest point in Little Rock Arkansas. The “Little Rock Nine” were the first black students who stepped foot into the school. However, on the first day of school they had to be escorted by the national guard because their  lives were in danger. This documentary reveals the conditions of the school fifty years later, as to analyze any progress (if any) that has been made throughout the years.

I admit, this is not Shakespeare or the Kennedy assasination, or even young adult Lit.  However, it is very important to know our history; not black history but American History. It is even more important to see how American History is involved concerning our schools and our classrooms. It is a marker to show where this nation has come and maybe a prediction of where it may head in the future. Keep in mind that just because the documentary is in Arkansas doesn’t mean that this is not happening in all schools across America. This documentary may help open the eyes of many Americans who are allowed to live in a “racial cocoon” and speak the words “affirmative action” or maybe even ask such questions like “what racism?” when they talk in casual conversations. Just because there are class desparities (and issues involving class) does not mean that racism in America does not exists and the more we turn a blind eye to it, the worse it will get.

My question that I will pose to my senior high class is the question concerning the “color line” and the importance or non importance it has in education. Just in case you are interested (and if you have hbo) here are a list of times when the program will be airing:

                                                                                 Mon 10/1       8:15 a.m.- HBo2-East

                                                                                 Thur  10/4     12:30 a.m.         HBO- East

                                                                                 Thur 10/4       12:30 a.m.  HBO Latino-east

                                                                                 Thur 10/4          09:00       HBO-East

Remeber, this may not be about English but it does involve classrooms and education. If we are going to make a change “realistically”, then this is not a bad place to start.

Ray Canada



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4 responses to “Little Rock Central: 50 years later

  1. sunyprof

    I cried all the way through this powerful and important special and have tears welling up in my eyes even as I write this blog post…so much to talk about here Ray.

    I am so glad you shared your thoughts on it. I am going to make the tape available to anyone who does not have HBO and wants to watch it. KES

  2. rayhedrick

    I watched this HBO special the other night, and I guess I felt a little differently about it. I agree that there are some very important issues that need to be taken up; however, I had a hard time watching this because of how insincere I felt it was. Which, I would argue, proves that this really is a problem.

    Honestly, this is incredibly important, and I agree with you, Ray. I just didn’t think that the documentary was well done. Racism DOES still exist and there are many problems in our high-school classrooms today that need to be addressed.

    I did learn somethings through this documentary, but I also felt that it was done haphazardly. I honestly didn’t feel that the high-school principal knew what was going on… she was more concerned about how Central was the top school in the state. Which, I think we could argue, is a big part of the problem.

    I’m not suggesting that we don’t watch this documentary on a very important problem; however, I just wanted to say that it wasn’t as “powerful” as I would have hoped. It allows us a view of some of the problems, but also shows, I feel, that we’re not doing anything about it. Which I guess is what the producers were going for.

    There seemed to be a racial divide between the teachers too… which was very interesting.

    So, overall, I learned a lot about the source of these problems. I understand how important this issue is, and I appreciate how this documentary exposed some of them. I just felt that it wasn’t sincere. Which, I guess, would just show how big of a problem this really is.

    Watch this documentary. It’s worth the time.

  3. jmdegan

    It makes me sad and angry to see that fifty years after the “Little Rock 9” courageously faced racism to desegregate the Little Rock School District, the “Jena 6” are victims of the same inhumanity. Whatever else has happened in the last fifty years, we have not yet reconciled the great crime of the American experiment.

    J. Degan

  4. sunyprof

    Re: Jerry’s post…We certainly have not reconciled the great crime. Read Tatum’s post…I’m so glad to see this discussion on our blog. KES

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