meanwhile, in another part of town…

Today was a heavy travel day, starting with our departure from Memphis at 8:30am. After a trip of 2.5 hours to Little Rock 9 Visitor’s Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, we had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Dr. Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the “Little Rock 9” who led the way in integrating Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. Sadly, after several bad experiences with a number of the white students and with the teachers and administration looking the other way she wound up being expelled later that school year.

Our time with Dr. Trickey was unique from most of the other speakers we met with on this trip. After a brief explanation and background, the session was mostly Q&A and had a high degree of interaction. She was straight to the point and was animated and very passionate with her discussion. One thing that she brought up that I had never considered was the mass departure of thousands of African-Americans from the south to other parts of the United States. She referred to them as refugees needing asylum and said it was really no different than the similar situations in other countries except that instead of leaving one country and going to another, African-Americans moved to a different part of the country to escape the injustices.

We left the Visitor’s Center and went across the street where we had a chance to actually see Central High School. The school, like so many other structures in the south, could be described as regal and was highly impressive. During this trip it has been somewhat difficult to see so much of the incredible beauty of the area that has been mixed with the horrors of segregation.

After visiting Central, we went to the “Testament” statue of the 9 at the capitol building where we were able to photograph Minnijean with Minnijean. We then got to have lunch with her at a local spot called “Sim’s”. From there, we said goodbye to Little Rock and Dr. Trickey and made the 6 hour trip to Nashville, TN to spend the evening.

With all of the bus time we had the chance to view a few documentaries and a feature film. The first two were on the way to Little Rock and followed the Little Rock 9 and Dr. Trickey’s experiences. We also viewed the movie “Freedom Song”, as well as the recent PBS documentary “Freedom Riders”. An interesting footnote on this is that one of our students participated in the 2011 Student Freedom Ride that wrapped up in May. Tomorrow we check out Nashville a little bit and then head to Ohio, where we will prepare to wrap up the trip in Cincinnati and Canton.