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Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Today I spoke at an Employment Law and Legislative Affairs Conference about “Life as a Political Animal.” The speech title itself deserves some explanation. In 1983, after leaving the staff of Senator David Pryor and returning to the private sector, I formed an organization called the “Political Animals Club,” a nonpartisan group where people would meet to talk only about politics. Think of it as a Rotary Club with a theme–only the Political Animals Club had no organizational structure, no dues and no responsibilities other than to discuss politics among themselves and with guest speakers.
We met for the first time at the long-departed Coachman’s Inn–located on the site where the downtown post office now stands. The Coachman’s Inn, owned by the Stephens family, was a political watering hole and gathering place. It was an appropriate site for political discourse–much like the bar at the Capitol Hotel, also owned by the Stephens Family, was in the 1992 Clinton Presidential campaign and will soon be again when renovation is completed later this year.
In 2008, the Political Animals Club will celebrate its 25th anniversary. After I stepped down as chairman of the club, George Jernigan, Russ Meeks and now Steve Ronnel assumed the club’s leadership position. All have done outstanding jobs, and the Political Animals Club continues to attract and provide quality programming. The Clinton School will be partnering with the Political Animals on Sept. 24 when Harold Ford Jr., speaks in the Barry Travis Exhibition Hall at the Robinson Center.
In my speech this morning, I shared some of my favorite Arkansas political stories. Here’s one of them:
Hattie Caraway, the first woman ever elected in her own right to the United States Senate, only made about one speech a year and never entered a debate. She was, however, the first woman to chair a Senate committee, the first woman to preside over the Senate and the first woman senior senator. When asked why she didn’t talk very much, she told a reporter. “I haven’t the heart to take a minute away from the men. The poor dears love it so.”
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The HBO documentary “Little Rock Central High: 50 Years Later” premiered Tuesday night at the Kennedy School on the Harvard campus followed by a panel discussion. I was privilged to be among the panelists. The film, produced by Brent and Craig Renaud of Little Rock, will air on HBO on the evening of Sept. 25.
Minnijean Brown Trickey and the Brothers Renaud along with noted Harvard Professor Henry “Skip” Gates and Arkansas native and Harvard consultant David Evans were also panelists. Professor Gates presented Minnijean with the W.E.B. DuBois medal, one of Harvard’s highest awards.
Josh Manning, a Lyon College graduate from Crawfordsville, Ark., and a second-year Kennedy School student was in the audience.
The film sparked great debate and discussion that could have extended for several hours. I’ll be interested in getting Arkansas’s reaction following its Sept. 25 showing.
It was an honor being part of this event. It also made me proud of the Clinton School, because our public program/distinguished lecture series can hold its own with the best–which is, of course, Harvard. I was also able to meet some prospective Clinton School students. We are attracting the best and brightest students from Arkansas and bringing the best and brightest to Arkansas.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Much has been said about the current racial make up of Little Rock Central High School as we approach the 50th anniversary of the school’s 1957 desegregation and the constitutional crisis that surrounded it.
According to current statistics, Little Rock Central is 53.4 percent African American, 40.6 percent Caucasian and 6 percent various other nationalities. The 50th anniversary 2007-2008 Central senior class is 45.8 percent African American, 48.2 percent Caucasian and 6 percent various other nationalities.
Little Rock’s 18-and-under population, based on 2005 projections, is 49 percent African American, 44.4 percent Caucasian and 5.6 percent various other nationalities.
Draw your own conclusions. But to me Little Rock Central’s population looks very similar to Little Rock’s population. I would say by the 2007 Central High numbers, desegregation at the school is working.
One other very interesting Central High statistic: Of the last 11 student body presidents (including the current year): five African Americans; five Caucasians; and one other nationality (current officeholder) have held the highest student elective position.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Several Clinton School students, faculty, staff and I have attended The Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of “It Happened In Little Rock.” Directed by Rajendra Ramoon Marharaj, the play is produced in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School and covers the time periods of 1957 and the present. It’s strong, entertaining and thought provoking, and it shows through Sept. 30.
I highly recommend seeing it and, I applaud The Rep for its fine work. Call The Rep box office: 501-378-0405 or toll free 866-6THEREP for tickets. You will be glad you did.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The Clinton School, in cooperation with several groups including the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Foundation and the Clinton Presidential Library and Foundation, is hosting a conference about the role President Eisenhower played in the 1957 desegregation crisis at Little Rock Central High School. The sessions are being held in the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center.
Today, students from Central High and Abilene High School in Abilene, Kansas, President Eisenhower’s high school alma mater, portrayed, through dramatic recreations, 36 individuals who were involved in the 1957 crisis, including Eisenhower and his key staff.
Saturday, former Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman Jr., and David Nichols, author of “A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of Civil Rights Revolution” are among those speaking. A special guest will be Ann Brownell Sloane, the daughter of Eisenhower’s Attorney General, the late Herbert Brownell, who played a key role in Eisenhower’ decision to send federal troops to Little Rock.
A special thanks to the Clinton Library Staff for hosting this very interesting and informative conference.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – I’m frequently asked about which of our Clinton School speakers have attracted the most people. Here are the current top 25. Note that Harold Ford and John Yoo have not yet appeared.
1. Madeleine Albright
2. Richard Dawkins
3. Karl Rove
4. George Stephanopoulos
5. Jesse Jackson
6. Harold Ford
7. Zac Nsenga
8. Imam W. D. Mohammed
9. Fernando Cardoso
10. John Harris/Mark Halperin
11. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
12. Taylor Branch
13. Warren Stephens
14. Bishop John Rucyahana
15. Marie Tillman
16. Sandra Hubbard
17. Martin Indyk
18. Howard Baker
19. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
20. Bob Barnett
21. Abderrahim Foukara
22. Stan Tiner
23. Richard Holbrooke
24. John Yoo
25. Imad Moustapha
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD –
148 total—fewer than one percent of the state’s graduating high school seniors.
56 Arkansas high schools represented; that’s up from 44 schools last year.
Top 5 Arkansas high schools:
1. Little Rock Central (17 semifinalists)
2. Fayetteville (16 semifinalists)
3. Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science and the Arts (12 semifinalists)
4. Conway (9 semifinalists)
5. Cabot (7 semifinalists)
Interesting data about Arkansas’s largest high schools and their number of semifinalists:
1. Rogers (3 semifinalists)
2. North Little Rock (2 semifinalists)
3. Fayetteville (16 semifinalists)
4. Conway (9 semifinalists)
5. Bentonville (4 semifinalists)
6. Cabot (7 semifinalists)
7. Fort Smith Southside (4 semifinalists)
8. Little Rock Central (17 semifinalists)
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Six years ago terrorists in airplanes attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and apparently were headed for the White House when a heroic crew of passengers took one plane over and it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Not too long ago, Deena Burnett, the widow of Tom Burnett who was one of the heroes of United Flight 93, spoke courageously about her husband at the Clinton School.
On September 11, 2001 many of us watched thse events unfold on television with disbelief and shock. Almost 3,000 people died, and it is now estimated that about 10,000 more are sick or will be from other illnesses such as lung disease and cancer as a result of post-impact dust, debris and other injuries. For many students at the Clinton School, like Pearl Habor was to the World War II generation, 9/11 is a day that will always live in infamy.
We at the Clinton School pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the attacks, and we honor the families whose lives will never be the same. We do so with a simple but sincere message on a sign at our front entrance.
Today people all over the world, will ask each other this one question: “Where Were You on 9/11?”
For me, I was at a meeting in Brownsville, Texas. Later that day, I learned a family friend was on the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. I ended up staying in Brownsville several days before the airport reopened. In the midst of the tragedy, one of the things I remember was the kindness extended to a stranger by many in that South Texas community.
As a living memorial to the victims, the tragedy of 9/11 spawned a new interest in and commitment to public service. In 2005, for example, 5 million out of 12 million college undergraduates volunteered. That same year, the Clinton School, the nation’s first to offer a Master of Public Service Degree, opened its doors.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Invitations are in the mail for the first annual Clinton School Scholarship Fundraiser. Mitch Albom, bestselling author of Tuesdays with Morrie (1997); The Fve People You Meet in Heaven (2003); and For One More Day (2006) is keynoting the Oct. 24 luncheon in the Wally Allen Ballroom of the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Albom is also an award-winning sportswriter, having won the Associated Press Sports Editor Contest 13 times. This will be his first visit to Arkansas.
Here are just a few reasons why scholarships are so important:
*62 percent of college graduates ages 21 to 35 still have debt.
*39 percent said it will take 10 years or more to be debt free.
*43 percent used credit cards to pay tuition and one-third are still in debt.
*44 percent say the debt made them delay buying a home.
*28 percent say the debt made them delay having children.
*33 percent say the debt made them move in with their parents.
*25 percent had to postpone or cancel graduate school attendance.
We hope you will support the Clinton School by donating to our scholarship fund. We’ll be happy to send you a invitation. Just email your name and address to Eric Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 501.683.5655.