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Silence was courage

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Max Brantley seems to think that the white students at Central in 1957 should have taken a stand for the nine black students, and since we didn't, he seemed to imply that we had no integrity. In fact, he didn't hesitate to compare us to the apathetic German people prior to World War II!

I would remind him that 1957 was a vastly different time from today. We had nothing to compare with — no sit-ins, no marches, as yet. Most of us had never even heard of a concept called “civil disobedience.” We came from a much simpler time — a time when we were still considered children by most adults.

Hindsight is easy. Developing opinions based on what is written in various history books is easy.

It was a scary time for both black and white students. Wiser heads than ours were telling us, daily, “Just go about your business. We'll get through this year.”

I would suggest that at that particular time, and in that atmosphere of tension, being silent and practicing self-control may have been an act of courage. To do otherwise might well have led to retaliation by the agitators, the likes of which you wouldn't have wanted to witness. And, it would have happened inside the school instead of outside on the sidewalk.

Betty Parsons Adams

Harrison

Too much smoke

Regarding the Sept. 13 issue and the article, including the cover, on Mohja Kahf: The cover photo shows her smoking. One of the six photos on pages 14-15 and another photo of her on page 16 show her smoking — three different shots of her smoking or 37.5 percent of the images. Because journalists can select which photos they publish, I find it difficult to understand why AT used any smoking photos, since lung cancer is now the number one cancer killer of women (due to female smoking), jumping ahead of breast cancer about a decade ago.

E. Robert Burns

Little Rock

Consider this

Would you please consider contributing to the Baby Sharon Fund? The fund does good work and deserves more support than it gets. Lack of support is due mostly to lack of knowledge about the fund. The fund needs small amounts of money from many people on a regular basis rather than the one-time large donations from a few that currently keep it afloat.

Please take the time to visit the Baby Sharon Fund web site donated by Aristotle. You can get to the site using the following address: http://www.arkansas-cares.org. The Baby Sharon Fund acts like your best friend or relative. For example, the fund added a special room on to a home so a baby could leave the hospital. It helped with basic life issues like transportation, shelter, food, and utilities.

Most states provide support in medical catastrophes involving children through some sort of a tax program. New Jersey, for example, collects $1 each year for each person employed. The employer pays the tax realizing that it is a form of insurance for his employees. Arkansas asks for a small contribution using a check-off on the state income tax form. You can make a contribution anytime using the following address:

Baby Sharon Fund Administrator

Individual Income Tax — State of AR

P.O. Box 3628

Little Rock, AR 72203

Write “Baby Sharon's Children's Trust Fund” on the check.

Richard Emmel

Little Rock

The farm bill

As a native Arkansan, I am proud of my state's history and heritage. However, agricultural practices established in the antebellum South which have driven the delta counties' economies created a great challenge for us to overcome. In the coming weeks, the Senate will consider the U.S. Farm Bill. It is vital that we contact Senators Lincoln and Pryor and encourage them to consider carefully all aspects of this bill's $619 billion budget. That's right — $619 billion.

Our state has so many valuable resources, top among them our citizens. Encouraging support for more local food supplies makes sense for all of us — farm families, rural and urban dwellers, business owners, and visitors to Arkansas.

Senator Lincoln sits on the Senate Agricultural Committee. Contact her and ask her to support increased funding for community food projects. Contact Senator Pryor as well. And while you're at it, contact your representatives, too, because the final bill will involve compromise between the House and Senate versions.

The farm bill in large part provides subsidies for farmers, but also funds for nutrition research and land conservation. These elements are equally important, and will help us move towards healthier school lunches for our children, as well as protecting our spectacular natural resources and building community through neighborhood gardens and other local food movements.

I admire and respect all the hard-working farm families who are struggling to carry on their family businesses. With no direct experience as a farmer, I cannot even begin to imagine the pressures of trying to keep a farm or ranch operating in the black. These dedicated Arkansans who strive to provide us with food for our urban tables need our help in standing up to the corporations like Tyson and Archer Daniels Midland. These companies claim to advocate for the family farmer, but in reality they are just padding executives' salaries at local farmers' expense.

There is a rumor that the current 2002 farm bill will simply be extended for one or two years. If so, then that gives citizens more time to learn about the complicated provisions and appropriations, and to send a message to our legislators. Of course, it could be ushered through both houses quickly, so we must take time to make our voices heard now.

Ninety-three percent of direct cash subsidies are allotted to just five crops — corn, cotton, wheat, soybeans and rice. We have the power to stand up and demand that our government assist us in supporting a wider base of food options. Something is horribly wrong in a country that forces us to make choices with our pocketbooks because unhealthy foods laden with high fructose corn syrup are priced so much lower than fresh fruits and vegetables.

Julie Hendrix

Little Rock

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