Central High visitor center | Arkansas Blog

Central High visitor center

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Plenty of Arkansas eminences on hand today for the dedication of the new Central High visitor center this morning. Stodola, Snyder, Lincoln, and Pryor all made remarks. (The 'Did You Know?' moment, via Pryor: Conrad Burns, the Montana Republican who Jon Tester ousted from the Senate last year, was a key congressional sponsor of the center.) Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne made an appearance, and Nikki Giovanni read a poem.

The highlights were speeches by John Lewis, the civil rights activist and current Georgia congressman, and Elizabeth Eckford. Lewis gave an impassioned talk that recalled some of the major events of the Civil Rights era. Eckford's were the only remarks that didn't conform to the feel-good approach of the rest of the program: she gave a rather combative speech that questioned recent coverage of the Central High crisis. In her own words: "I was dismayed to read in the paper that the students welcomed us. I didn't feel it." It will be interesting to see if she and the rest of the Nine take a similar tone at tomorrow's commemoration ceremonies.

The visitor center is now open. If you want to see it today, you have until 8 PM. Expect a crowd.

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