Amid Little Rock's current school turmoil, lunch today at the Clinton Library was an oasis of peace and hope. Alltel Wireless put on its annual luncheon to honor nine winners of $5,000 scholarships at historically black colleges for the company's annual essay contest. This year, writers asked how they hoped to personify courage as the Little Rock Nine did.
Our favorite: Kendra Smith of Hampton (Va.) University, who wrote, in part: "Courage is not something that is optional; many challenges lie ahead for me, as I had the nerve to not only be born black, but to be born with a spirit that cannot be broken. This may still be 'Massa's' world. But I am Harriet Tubman and I am determined to break free of it."
The keynote speaker again this year was Stamps native Maya Angelou, the great writer and teacher, who told of her own remarkable life and exhorted the crowd: "Reach out to people who do not look like you."
I wanted her to deliver the same speech at 5 p.m. at Little Rock school offices. Could there be a better day for such a good idea?
Funny note. I spoke briefly with Dr. Terrence Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine, who was in town for the event and will join all his heroic colleagues at a dinner in New York next week. I commented to him about the current turmoil, without being specific. I'm quite sure he's aware of the ongoing tension in the Little Rock School District, but I think by his answer he thought I was talking about the UA Board of Trustees meeting today and the Houston Nutt situation. "The meeting should be over by now, shouldn't it? Didn't it start at 11?" The Little Rock School Board, of course, doesn't meet until 5. Anyway ...
If something does happen on Nutt today, the Democrat-Gazette news editor is going to be faced with a dilemma -- football or education, which leads?