Today was the day -- LR crisis | Arkansas Blog

Today was the day -- LR crisis



At least it wasn't Sunday. But today's the day the New York Times published the story we told you about earlier -- signs of a racial divide in Little Rock in this the 50th year of the school crisis. Running on the web with the iconic picture of Elizabeth Eckford being harassed by whites as she walks to Central High in 1957, it leads:

Fifty years after the epic desegregation struggle at Central High School, the school district here is still riven by racial conflict, casting a pall on this year’s ambitious commemorative efforts.

In the latest clash, white parents pack school board meetings to support the embattled superintendent, Roy Brooks, who is black. The blacks among the school board members look on grimly, determined to use their new majority to oust him. Whites insist that test scores and enrollment have improved under the brusque, hard-charging Mr. Brooks; blacks on the board are furious that he has cut the number of office and other non-teaching jobs and closed some schools.

The fight is all the more disturbing to some here because it erupted just as a federal judge declared Little Rock’s schools finally desegregated, 50 years after a jeering white mob massed outside Central High to turn back integration.

In 1957, the fight was over whether nine black students could attend an entirely white high school. Now it is over whether the city’s black leaders can exert firm control over the direction and perquisites of an urban school district in the way that white leaders did for decades. When Mr. Brooks, who declined a request for an interview, cut 100 jobs, he saved money but earned the fierce ill will of many other blacks, who see the district as an important source of employment and middle-class stability.

On down a ways, I noted this quote from a former LR School Board member on Superintendent Roy Brooks:

“Roy Brooks has done a credible job reaching out to the grass tops, and a lousy job reaching out to the grass roots,” said James L. Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, part of the University of Arkansas.



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