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Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Sunday I had the privilege to help pay tribute to two outstanding women.
Ruth Lincoln, believed to be Arkansas’s oldest person, celebrated her 110th birthday yesterday concluding several days of parties, gatherings and events. Sunday afternoon Mrs. Lincoln was treated to a carriage ride around Parkway Village where she lives and was a special guest at a birthday party where more than 100 people who live in the village attended. I was honored to join Mrs. Lincoln and members of her family on the first part of her ride. While in route, she told me that she could not remember being in a horse drawn buggy since she rode one to and from high school. Last year, when she was just 109, Mrs. Lincoln spoke at the Clinton School and captivated us all with her knowledge, her wit and her beautiful smile.
Last night, I was among a large crowd at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church to see Caroline Stevenson, a wonderful Clinton School volunteer, receive the 2007 Bishop Kenneth Hicks Peace Award. Caroline is an active member of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) which empowers women to act politically to reduce militarism and violence. For the past three years, she has volunteered at the Clinton School and when asked about our students she said, “Their deciation and energy give me great hope that this generation will help our country in the direction of peace and justice.”
We at the Clinton School congratulate these very talented women both of whom continue to set such positive examples.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Clinton School students spent the weekend on the campus of the University of Arkansas as guests of University President Alan Sugg, Chancellor John White, Provost Bob Smith and others. While there, our students met with various faculty and staff about degree, program and elective course opportunities. In addition, they enjoyed a 66-7 win for the Razorback football team, with tickets courtesy of Dr. Sugg.
For many of our out-of-state and international students, the trip to Fayetteville was a first. From touring the campus, experiencing night life on Dickson Street, tailgating and “Calling the Hogs” at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, the students mixed pleasure with business. They also had the opportunity to spend time with Congressman Mike Ross of Arkansas.
We very much appreciate the University of Arkansas’s welcome and hospitality.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Today we set a new school record with our speaker series. When Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, the President of Zambia, met with our students this morning, it marked the 12th consecutive day for a program at the school. Most were open to the public with a couple being sessions for our students. My thanks to our staff for making this possible.
Here’s the impressive 12 day list:
September 17 — Diann Jordan, author of Sisters in Science
September 18 — John Yoo, constitutional law scholar and Patriot Act contributor
September 19 — Dutch Van Kirk, the “Enola Gay” navigator
September 20 — Governors Town Hall meeting with Governor Mike Beebe of Arkansas; Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas; Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona; and Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee
September 21 — Reception following the William H. Bowen Law School/Clinton School legal conference on the Central High 50th anniversary
September 22 — Chris Koor Garang, a “lost boy” of Sudan
September 23 — Little Rock Nine News Conference
September 24 — Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr.
September 25 — Tavis Smiley Radio Broadcast
September 26 — Little Rock Central 50 Years Later: documentary screening and panel discussion
September 27— Michael Duffy, TIME Magazine and coauthor of The Preacher and the Presidents
September 28 — Levy Patrick Mwanawasa president of Zambia.
We are proud to bring this quality programming to the Clinton School and to Arkansas.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – I don’t whether anyone caught it or not, but Arkansas Democrat Gazette writer Daniel Nasaw recently reported that former Akransas Governor Mike Huckabee indicated he would place his presidential papers at Ouachita Baptist University if he were elected President. Though buried in the news story, that’s a significant announcement.
While it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a commitment to put a Huckabee presidential library at Ouachita, it comes close. Most Presidential Libraries and Museums are in one location with one notable excpeption: the Gerald Ford Library is on the University of Michigan campus at Ann Arbor and the Gerald Ford Museum is in Grand Rapids.
if the news report is correct and if Huckabee is elected President, his presidential library (which is made up of his presidential papers) seems to be headed to Ouachita. He could also put his museum there or, like Ford, could select another location.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD –
Q: What was the strongest part of the 50th anniversary commemoration?
A. All the Little Rock Nine speaking. Those who witnessed it saw history happening.
Q: Who gave the best speech at the commemoration?
A. A toss up between Student Body President Cyrus Bahrassa and Melba Pattillo Beals. Beals was spectacular just like Elizabeth Eckford was at the opening of the new visitor center on Monday. Bahrassa was excellent at both the museum dedication and commemoration event. I would rank Eckford’s speech at the opening of the Visitor Center, Ernie Green’s speech at Political Animals Club, Beals’s speech at the commemoration ceremony, Bahrassa’s speech at the Visitor Center opening and Clinton’s speech at the gala as the top five for all the events with Nikki Giovanni’s reading at the Visitor Center opening very much in the mix.
Q: Why didn’t all the national television morning shows broadcast from Little Rock?
A. President George W. Bush did not attend the event. President Bush’s absence kept many of the national press corps from attending.
Q. Who surprised you the most?
A. Tavis Smiley, who interviewed, President Clinton, members of the Little Rock Nine and me among others yesterday morning before the ceremony. Being around him during the recording of his show Tuesday morning was both a privilege and a pleasure.
Q. What was the best souvenir?
A. Coca Cola produced a commemorative bottle that was distributed at Monday night’s gala. (I wonder what they are selling for on EBay…)
Q. What was the Little Rock Nine Foundation Gala like?
A. Bill Clinton gave a tremendous speech. Carlotta Walls Lanier did an incredible job planning this event. Had it not been for all the Little Rock Nine speaking at the commemoration ceremony, the highly successful and enjoyable gala might have overshadowed it.
Q. Who were the unsung stars of the 50th?
A. Cynthia East, who helped coordinate the Little Rock Nine Foundation Gala; Sally Porter who coordinated the volunteers; and Virgil Miller who co-chaired the 50th anniversary commission and showed years of remarkable leadership and patience. Also, Nikolai DiPippa, who set up the Little Rock Nine press conference and numerous other Clinton School events related to the 50th.
Q. Will there be a 60th?
A. I would hope so. In the meantime, I know on the 51st–September 25, 2008–John DiPippa, Associate Dean of the Bowen Law School and I have already had discussions about hosting a joint program. Next year will also be the 50th anniversary of the founding of Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC)—this group of brave women who fought to reopen LR schools in 1958-59 deserves to be honored. Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton spoke at the WEC’s 40th ceremony in 1998.
Q. Would you have changed anything?
A. Yes, upon reflection, I would have organized a tribute to Senator Dale Bumpers for his legislative achievement in making Central High a National Historic Site. In addition to its historical and civil rights significance, the Little Rock Central High National Historic Site has been an economic and tourism boom to the city and state. Mayor Woodrow Mann, who was a voice of reason in 1957, also deserves more recognition.
Q. What did you think about the Renaud brothers documentary about Little Rock Central 50 years later?
A. I liked it. I know others who didn’t, but I personally thought it was well done and balanced. It spoke true to Little Rock’s challenges in housing and the work that still remains in closing the achievement gap at Central High. Regarding Central, I think Principal Nancy Rousseau is doing a great job. Central is an inner city urban high school which is thriving, and Nancy is a class act. But if you haven’t seen the documentary, I encourage you to do so.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Over the past several days I have been asked frequently what I thought about Columbia University inviting President Ahmadinejad of Iran to speak on campus, providing him with a “public platform.” I agree with Columbia’s decision to have him speak. The thing I found most troubling was reports that some Columbia officials treated him rudely. If Columbia was going to invite him to campus, school officials should have treated him with respect or should not have invited him in the first place.
Columbia has a distinct advantage of being located in New York City, home of the United Nations. Attracting speakers in New York is easier than attracting them to Little Rock, though I’m very proud of what we are accomplishing here at the Clinton School. For example, Click here to check out our diverse and interesting October schedule.
Although nothing quite as controversial as President Ahmadinejad, we’ve had some objections about our speakers. Some on the “left” objected to conservative law professor and “torture memo” author John Yoo, and some on the “right” objected to athiest scientist Richard Dawkins. Some questioned why we would bring in the Syrian Ambassador or the Washington Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera. Karl Rove attracted a great deal of attention as did Islamic activist Irshad Manji. Not surprisingly, all gave outstanding presentations and many were able to experience a wide variety of views, even if they disagreed with them. All were treated with respect–proving people can debate and challenge views without being disrespectful.
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas in the late 60’s and early 70’s there were objections to inviting Muhammad Ali, former secretary of State Dean Rusk and the theatrical production “Hair” to campus. They came, and I enjoyed them all. Criticism of campus speakers, I’ve concluded, is not new and comes with the educational territory. Stay tuned for our future speaker schedules, and we always welcome your suggestions and comments—pro and con.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Of all the events I attended throughout the 50th anniversary commemoration of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School, none was more enjoyable than the Clinton School hosting Tavis Smiley and watching his radio show broadcasted from the Clinton Presidential Library this morning.
Among his guests this morning were Bill Clinton and Little Rock nine members: Elizabeth Eckford, Ernie Green, Gloria Ray Kalmark, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Minnijean Brown Trickey. Joel Anderson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and I also had the pleasure to talk about our respective programs.
Several Clinton School students were in attendance, and they had yet another personal opportunity to interact with Clinton, Smiley and members of the Little Rock Nine.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD –
*President Bill Clinton and members of the Little Rock Nine viewed the Emancipation Proclamation as a group on Monday evening Sept. 24. Following the viewing, each of the Nine and their families had their pictures made with the President in the Oval Office of the Presidential Library. President Clinton then spent about 10 minutes rearranging and tinkering with the personal items on his desk. The Clinton School students saw the Emancipation Proclamation Sunday evening. Today is the last day the historic document will be on display in Little Rock. It will then return to Washington for safe and secure storage in a vault at the National Archives.
*At the dedication of the Central High Visitor Center Monday morning, Elizabeth Eckford’s speech about the indignities she and the other eight endured at Central High was captivating. You could have heard a pin drop among the 2,000 or so in attendance. It was one of the best presentations I’ve heard about what really happened inside Central High in 1957. Someone should put the video of her remarks on YouTube.
*At Monday morning’s Political Animals Club breakfast featuring Ernie Green, Green choked up when he called out the names of the Little Rock Nine. When he finished his speech, I asked him for the original copy which he signed and gave to me for donation to the Central High collection in the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS). The speech was also videotaped for the David and Barbara Pryor Center for oral and visual history at the University of Arkansas.
*At the Little Rock Foundation gala Monday night, Governor Mike Beebe touted the Arkansas Repertory Theater’s production “It Happened in Little Rock.” I couldn’t agree more. Go see it before it closes Sept. 30.
*Tonight, the documentary “Little Rock Central High: 50 Years Later” airs on HBO. Produced by Little Rock natives Brent and Craig Renaud, the film takes a current look at Central High and the City of Little Rock. Having seen it twice and having participated in a discussion about it at Harvard’s Kennedy School, I predict it will generate spirited reaction—both pro and con.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The Clinton School hosted the Little Rock Nine Foundation’s 50th anniversary opening news conference this afternoon. All nine members gathered in the school’s reading room before proceeding to the Commons area which was packed with local, state, national and international media. Other than the Little Rock Nine, their families and members of the 50th anniversary coordinating committee, Clinton School students were also others in attendance. It was a very special and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.
Before the event began, Clinton School student Chance Williams greeted Little Rock Nine Member Carlotta Walls Lanier. Ms. Lanier had recommended Chance attend the Clinton School, and they had a great visit catching up. The Clinton School’s Jonathan Mwaba was one of the few assigned to serve as a personal assistant to the Nine and is escorting them during all the events.
Having helped coordinate the 40th anniversary commemoration in 1997, it was a pleasure for me to reunite with all the Little Rock Nine.
We shared great stories about 1997 as well as the events that have transpired since then. We were honored to have all the Little Rock Nine at the Clinton School. Look for a signed poster noting this day to soon be on display at the school. See a photo below: