Central High at 60: Seize the day mayor. Stand up for LR schools. | Arkansas Blog

Central High at 60: Seize the day mayor. Stand up for LR schools.

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The 60th anniversary of the school crisis culminates today with a program at Central High School including former President Bill Clinton, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Mayor Mark Stodola and the eight living members of the Little Rock Nine.

Will anybody mention the elephant in the room — the takeover of the Little Rock School District at the behest of a white Little Rock business community that didn't like the  majority black Little Rock Schol Board and the other uncomfortable facts about the district six decades later? Little Rock Nine member Terrence Roberts is among those who've noted the 70 percent black composition of the school district in a majority white city (though this figure is somewhat misleading on account of the district's boundaries being smaller than those of the city at large and the minority percentage of whites among school-age children in the district.)

KARK/Fox 16 has been unearthing archival footage for its coverage of events and I particularly liked the appearance of the Confederate battle flag in footage of those protesting the entry of nine black children into Central High. I wonder, had they been interviewed, if they'd said that flag had no racist intent, that it was merely a proud symbol of their "heritage." Indeed it was an appropriate symbol — of subjugatio and a desire to continue it. NOTE: KARK/Fox 16 will live-stream today's program.

Who could have dreamed that the Little Rock anniversary would be so well-timed with a symbolically relevant national event — Donald Trump's assault on the speech of football players against police killing of unarmed blacks. and the racial divide over these events. He and those who wish to maintain agency over black people are trying to make the conflict about respect for the military. It is no such thing, of course, but scoundrels have always taken refuge in patriotism.

For some historical context, read Charles Blow in today's New York Times, who writes, among others, about the anti-black, anti-slavery beliefs of Francis Scott Key, author of the National Anthem. It is another irony that black people are commanded to blindly salute this piece of cloth,  no matter how outrageous the acts taken in its name. Also read Samuel Friedman about politics and football, particularly the long history of racial discrimination in sports (the resistance of Southern colleges to playing blacks and, in professional football, reluctance to put blacks in field general positions.)

But back to my original point: Will anybody call on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to encourage his state board of education to give the majority black Little Rock School District democratic control of its school district. The lagging scores of a couple of 48 schools don't justify continued state control, not when unproven and failing charter schools get an endorsement from the same regulators in the billionaire-funded drive to kill the school district once and for all.

Mayor Stodola's weekly message doesn't provide much hope. He lauds the week's events and the Nine. He touts progress the city has made. He does recognize "we still have much work to do." Then he touts city anti-blight spending in neighborhoods south of I-630 (wrecked in part by racial apartheid promoted by the white business establishment in real estate development and freeway building). He also touts crime-fighting efforts — again in impoverished minority  neighborhoods created in large measure by school travails of the last 60 years.

He makes no mention of the Little Rock School District. He does exhort citizens of Little Rock to seize the day and to seize the opportunity to make a difference.

Indeed, Mayor Stodola, seize an opportunity to say this  to Gov. Hutchinson during your remarks at Central this morning:

GIVE LITTLE ROCK ITS SCHOOLS BACK.

UPDATE: Alas, the mayor mostly just regurgitated his weekly newsletter in his public remarks.

CENTRAL HIGH: The state, not Little Rock voters, now control it. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • CENTRAL HIGH: The state, not Little Rock voters, now control it.



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