by Max Brantley
I mentioned earlier that Washington's Birthday is a good day to think about veterans.
This is also a state holiday — Daisy Batson Bates Day, a tribute to the NAACP leader who was a high-profile figure in the Little Rock school crisis of 1957 (and an increasingly nuanced one, as careful history begins to supplant some folkloric themes.)
Though it's a federal holiday, the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site across from Central High will be open today and is worth a visit. But the park rangers have a special event planned, in cooperation with the Christian Ministerial Alliance.
They will give two guided tours of Bates' home at 1208 W. 28th St. — at 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Parking is available along West 28th Street. Admission is free. Rangers will meet visitors at the beginning of each tour on the front lawn of the house, also a historic landmark. There, Bates met a steady stream of visiting journalists and occasionally gathered the Little Rock Nine who desegregated Central with the help of federal courts and troops.
I was reminded of this by an article in today's New York Times about the growing efforts to build museums to the civil rights movement, with major projects in the works in Jackson, Atlanta and Charleston. I'm happy to say Little Rock was ahead of the curve. As the pioneers die, the urgency to remember them grows, something akin, one person noted, to the surge of interest in Civil War history when the last of those veterans began disappearing.