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Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The Cox Creative Center in the Rivermarket, part of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) and within walking distance of the Clinton School, is hosting an art exhibit, Looking Back-Looking Ahead, commemorating 50 years of integration and featuring over 150 Little Rock Central High School students. I toured the exhibit Saturday afternoon, and it is spectacular.
Under the leadership of Lynn Smith, chair of Central’s fine arts department, and with the support of Reita Walker Miller, CALS art administrator, this exhibit features art of over 150 students. Hats off to Principal Nancy Rousseau for her vision, to Mr. Smith for his leadership, to Ms. Miller for her enthusiasm and to the Central students for their talent.
It will be on display through October, and I highly recommend it. Most of the art is for sale too.
Some of my favorites: Flower Power, an acrylic about the attack on African American journalist Alex Wilson by Will Barker; an untitled mixed media piece by Greta James featuring soldiers and a white boy; The Irony of the American Flag, digital media by Jessica Boyd; an untitled oil by Sophie Yan showing Elizabeth Eckford being taunted; Don’t Let Them See You Cry, a prismacolor portrait of Elizabeth Eckford by Kate Trotter; and Soldiers at Work, a graphite by Randy Rankin. Artist Rankin is also the quarterback of the highly-ranked Central football team.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Chris Koor Garang was seven years old when he fled from his village in the Akon area of South Sudan in 1988 during an attack by government-backed militia. After wandering through Africa for four years and then growing up without family in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, he came to the United States in 2001 as one of the 4,000 “Lost Boys of Sudan.”
This weekend Garang met with Clinton School students and described his experiences including his return to Sudan where he was reunited with his parents whom he believed were dead. Now a licensed practical nurse, Garang is living in Tucson, AZ and works with others to bring medical supplies and mosquito nets to Sudan. He hopes someday to help open a medical clinic there.
Garang is in Little Rock to participate in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School.
Since Clinton School students have worked in the Sudan and other African countries on their international public service projects, Garang’s presentation was of personal interest and significance.
We were honored to have him with us.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Clinton School students, faculty and staff got a sneak preview of the Emancipation Proclamation Friday night at the Clinton Presidential Library. The historic document, along with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and many other records, is part of the collection held by the National Archive and Records Administration in Washington D.C.
I was honored to join Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States and Governor Mike Beebe in unveiling the Emancipation Proclamation which was issued and signed by President Abraham Lincoln. While being part of the unveiling was personally very meaningful, it was equally rewarding to see our students be among the very first to view the document on its four day stay at the Clinton Library. This preview represented another exceptional opportunity for those who study at the Clinton School.
My thanks to the the National Archvies, the Clinton Library and the Clinton Foundation for making it possible. Having the Emancipation Proclamation here during the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School is a thrill. A special thank you to the Archivist for coming to Little Rock.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The Clinton School hosted a town hall meeting Thursday featuring Governors Mike Beebe of Arkansas; Phil Bredesen of Tennessee; Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. With Clinton School students asking the questions, the Governors addressed a wide variety of issues including education, children’s health, biofuels and immigration.
The town hall gathering was an extraordinary opportunity for Clinton School students to interact with four of the nation’s brightest and most progressive Governors. It represents another reason why the Clinton School offers a unique and special educational experience.
We are grateful to Governor Beebe and his staff for making it possible.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, published its Graduate & Law School today in Washington. And in the spirit of recruiting the best and brightest students to the Clinton School here in Arkansas, we have an advertisement displayed prominently, inviting prospective students to learn more about our Master of Public Service Degree Program.
As we continue to grow in size and reputation, we are actively recruiting students of all backgrounds. Public Service is a career that is drawing everyone from recent college graduates, to mid-career professionals ready to change the world for the better. If you are interested in learning more about our school, follow this link: www.clintonschool.uasys.edu/admissions. See our ad in Roll Call below:
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.