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Little Rock -- Fifty Years Later:

Fifty years ago today, federal troops escorted nine black students, through an angry mob, into little Rock's Central High School. Shelby Steele looks back:

On this 50th anniversary of Eisenhower's troop deployment, the significance of the Little Rock crisis--its place in history--is much clearer. I believe it was the beginning of a profoundly different America. . . .

the deeper historical importance of the Little Rock crisis follows from the simple fact that it was televised. It was, in fact, the first time that this still fledgling medium was able to make America into a community by rendering up a riveting real-life drama for the country to watch. Compelling personalities emerged, like the despicable and erratic Gov. Faubus, who kept flaunting federal authority like a little potentate. There was Eisenhower himself, whose grandfatherly patience with Faubus seemed to belie a sympathy with this racist's need to hold on to a fading authority. And there was the daily gauntlet that the black students were made to walk--innocence face to face with evil. And, finally, there was great suspense. How would it all end? Would there by a military clash, another little civil war between North and South?

So Americans watched by the millions and, in this watching, saw something that would change the country fundamentally. Every day for weeks they saw white people so consumed with racial hatred that they looked bestial and subhuman. When white racism was a confident power, it could look like propriety itself, like good manners. But here, in its insecurity, it was grotesque and shocking. Worse, it was there for the entire world to see, and so it broke through the national denial. The Little Rock crisis revealed the evil at the core of segregation, and it launched the stigmatization of white Americans as racists that persists to this day. After Little Rock whites stood permanently accused. They would have to prove a negative--that they were not racist--in order to claim decency. And this need to forever beg one's innocence is the very essence of white guilt.

More from Angela Onwuachi.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports on the 50th anniversary commemoration.

the brief appearances by the nine captivated the crowd. They are an accomplished group, earning numerous bachelor's and master's degrees, though generally heavier and grayer. Two of them used wheelchairs.

On the podium, they thanked their parents and advised youngsters to be diligent. If they did recall anything for the crowd about those turbulent times, it did not involve being spit on, or insulted or physically threatened -- as if the meanness of those days had been cleansed in memory. They recalled instead the humor and determination.

Randy R. (mail):
Wow. What a powerful story. To think that this happened only 50 years ago, and yet it seems like forever. To think that this was such a big issue back then, and yet today whites and blacks mingle in ways no one could have imagined back then. It makes me feel that progress can sometimes be made.

It's also good to see that, on occasion, having the federal government intervene can be a good thing.
9.26.2007 1:15am
The General:
now, liberal Democrats still want to stand in the schoolhouse door and prevent White, Asian and Arab children from attending schools because they aren't "diverse" enough.

Something tells me, however, that the federal government isn't about to do anything about it.
9.26.2007 1:23am
Steve:
50 years on, the complaints about deprivation of white rights continue, sadly.
9.26.2007 1:31am
Justin (mail):
Is "The General" for real? Or parody? He sort of blends the two.
9.26.2007 1:32am
CaDan (mail):
Perhaps it's Jesus' General.
9.26.2007 1:43am
David Sucher (mail) (www):
I can't believe that after a stirring account of one of the great moments in American history, when white America finally got off its ass and started to do the right thing, Steele focuses on "white guilt." If a bit of "white guilt" -- I hate to even engage with such an odd take -- came out of Little Rock then after centuries of slavery I think it's not such a surprising or even bad outcome. But I don't even think he is correct on that point. It's not "white guilt" which is most common but "white resentment."

This sentence in particular must have been written by two people: "The Little Rock crisis revealed the evil at the core of segregation, and it launched the stigmatization of white Americans as racists that persists to this day."

The first clause is correct; the second one is a total exaggeration whose purpose mystifies me. What surrounds is not so much "white guilt" as "white resentment" for being forced to recognize our stained history.
9.26.2007 1:54am
JB:
The question is not "should we recognize our stained history," but "What should we do about it?"

Overt racism is now shameful, but not so quiet racism, and the racists are happy to let lousy public schools and good expensive private schools do the sorting for them, so they don't have to reject qualified blacks all that often. Unfortunately, the attempts to redress that which have been tried all start far too late to be at all efficient.
9.26.2007 2:02am
Hei Lun Chan (mail) (www):
"the racists are happy to let lousy public schools and good expensive private schools do the sorting for them"

So people who oppose school vouchers are "quiet" racists?
9.26.2007 2:13am
r78:
Ah, we live in a great country. Where else could a person who does not know the difference between flouting and flaunting be considered intelligent and worth paying attention to?
9.26.2007 2:13am
Nadya:
Again, I feel when I read something written by an american academic that the main idea in United states is that America ( North America) is not "le centre du monde", no it is the world.
Off topic? No, it is just what I have in mind when I read your writing, and it is the same even for scientific researchs, in medecine for example.
Just a little comment: You are not alone in the earth, unfortunately.
9.26.2007 2:48am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Where else could a person who does not know the difference between flouting and flaunting be considered intelligent and worth paying attention to?"

Geez. Merriam-Webster gives a pass, due to long-standing confusion between the two. Would Oscar Wilde and Louis Untermeyer pass your test? :-)
9.26.2007 3:27am
TribalPundit (W&M 0L) (mail) (www):
The "flaunting" thing jumped out at me, too. Doesn't anybody have an editor any more?

Nadya...words fail me.
9.26.2007 4:22am
Public_Defender (mail):
And 23 years later, Ronald Reagan supported Faubus' "state's rights" segregationist position when he went to Philadelphia, Mississippi to kick off his 1980 campaign.

Of course, we can have an intellectual discussion about federalism without implicating racism. But Reagan intentionally chose to raise the "state's rights" flag in a the place where "state's rights" meant the right to murder uppity black people.

For decades after Little Rock, Reagan and other Republicans have appealed to white parents by promising solutions that will keep their kids from having to go to school with black kids. Even vouchers are generally set low enough so that the white kids can go to schools that vouchers won't pay for.
9.26.2007 7:02am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Are schools really less segregated today? For the working and lower classes yes, but generally not for the middle class, and certainly not for the upper class. Look at Washington DC. How many rich and powerful liberals there send their children to the DC public school system? Chelsea Clinton went to Sidwell Friends. The Gores sent their children to private school, and so on. To his credit Jimmy Carter did send his child to the DC public schools (under the watchful eye of the Secret Service). Jefferson High School—one mile from the White House—generally has zero white students. The pattern is the same all over the country. Big mouth anti-segregationists quietly make sure that their own children either attend virtually all-white suburban or private schools. They love integration— for other people. Let's face it, the real effect of the Brown decision and enforcement actions like Little Rock was to force the children of poor white people into integrated school systems, and virtually no one else.
9.26.2007 7:31am
Temp Guest (mail):
There's a major historical error in the account: Television had a profound effect on US society on at least two occasions before Little Rock. The 1951 coverage of the Democratic and Republican national conventions that selected Stevenson and Eisenhower presented a misleading image of "smoke filled rooms" and undemocratic powerbroking. Since then the parties and politicians have pandered to television in ways that have profoundly influenced the electoral process for the worse. And how could Steele forget/ignore the public auto de fe of Senator McCarthy a few years later. For better or worse TV was significantly affecting US culture long before Little Rock.
9.26.2007 9:24am
Matty G:
I agree with Temp Guest. Little Rock was a huge moment, certainly deserving of celebration, remembrance, and study 50 years later, but it probably wasn't "the" TV moment in the 50's. It arguably wasn't even the moment that the white north first woke up about what was actually going on in the south - that was probably in late '55 / early '56, after the Emmitt Till murder and the bus boycott.

But still, nice articles. Thanks for posting them.
9.26.2007 9:42am
bernball:
I have often wondered if anyone has gone back and identified the antagonists (read as racists) in the photos that are screaming as the black students are walking into the school? There are hundreds of horrible images where we can look back and see people at their worst. I remember seeing photos of white crowds (including children) smiling and looking at a lynching victim.

I wonder if any of those captured in these historical images are still carrying that hatred in their hearts?
9.26.2007 9:49am
Anderson (mail):
I realize that Shelby Steele has to be Shelby Steele, but I hardly think that the takeaway from Little Rock was that white Americans were *stigmatized* as racists.

Try "exposed" as racists.

--Bernball, that's a good question, and Kevin Drum links to the answer. Most remarkable in the VF story was Oprah Winfrey's attitude:

The most public skeptic was Oprah Winfrey, who hosted Elizabeth [one of the black students] and Hazel [a white student] on a program in November 1999. Reconciliation and redemption are her things, but this one was too much even for her. "They are friends. They … are … friends," Oprah said, the first time in apparent disbelief, the second time, it seemed, with distaste and resignation. Elizabeth, who still covers up the photograph with a tissue when she signs books (the white dress affords a perfect place for autographs), suddenly found it on a massive screen directly in front of her as her host bore down, asking her clinically why looking at it still upset her so. "She was as cold as she could be," Elizabeth recalls. "She went out of her way to be hateful." Characteristically, though, Elizabeth felt sorrier for Hazel. She was treated even more brusquely.
9.26.2007 10:02am
wagnert in atlanta (mail):
An odd note: In the photograph decorating the linked article in the WSJ, Orval Faubus is holding up the front page of the Manchester Union-Leader -- from New Hampshire. Does anyone's memory go back far enough to explain that? Maybe the local papers had reduced themselves to spluttering incoherence and he didn't want that displayed in the national press.
9.26.2007 10:18am
Anderson (mail):
Maybe Faubus liked the NH headline's take on things, as evidence that not only Southern whites saw it in those terms.
9.26.2007 10:27am
Joe Bingham (mail):
Um, someone should tell the Hoover Institution that their people aren't in the school's "mainstream."
9.26.2007 10:29am
ChrisIowa (mail):
Of course Steele is a Southerner, so the south is the center of his universe, but to say this can be generalized to all the states is an exaggeration. 50 years ago I was a 1st grader in a public school in Iowa. Fifteen to 20 per cent of my classmates were African-American, and no one thought anything about it.
9.26.2007 10:46am
JB:
Hei Lun Chan: No, you have it exactly backwards. Large numbers of quiet racists are hiding among the genuine supporters of school vouchers.
9.26.2007 11:02am
Archon (mail):
And what a coincidence it was 50 years ago State's lost their sovereignty.

Brown v. Board caused more problems then it supposedly solved.
9.26.2007 11:11am
DCraig:
"So people who oppose school vouchers are "quiet" racists?"

If it walks like a duck...
9.26.2007 11:17am
JosephSlater (mail):
I echo what JB says about vouchers. They hurt public schools and really only help parochial (typically Catholic) schools.
9.26.2007 11:24am
Al (mail):
I echo what JB says about vouchers. They hurt public schools and really only help parochial (typically Catholic) schools.

So, in addition to all those "quiet" white racists who run atrocious public school systems in Detroit, New Orleans, DC, and other urban areas, the problem with those public schools is (mostly non-existent) vouchers? Right.
9.26.2007 11:32am
Bob from Ohio (mail):

I echo what JB says about vouchers. They hurt public schools and really only help parochial (typically Catholic) schools.


Catholic schools in major cities have large numbers of black students, often the majority. In many case, most of these kids are not even Catholic.

The racists in the school voucher situation are the opponents, not the supporters. White suburbinites, both Democrats and Republicans, both liberals and conservatives, don't want black kids coming to their schools. At least poor black kids.
9.26.2007 11:48am
Randy R. (mail):
I think the thing that really turned off Americans was the issue of forced busing in the early 70s. It was ridiculous to bus kids for hours to a school no where near where they lived just to integrate schools. The idea was good, maybe, to have white kids and black kids sit together, but the means was simply bizarre. That, perhaps more than anything, led to white flight to the suburbs, leaving the poorer blacks to the inner cities.

We now have, as several pointed out, de facto segregation -- rich whites in the suburbs, poor blacks in the cities. However, I think the racism issue is over blown. If you are a rich black family, you can afford to live the suburbs and take advantage of the good schools, and many blacks do that to no incident.

I think the prejudice is more a class issue today, poor people vs. middle class and rich people. That more blacks happen to be poor is incidental. No one wants poor people around, whether they are black, white, or Latino.
9.26.2007 11:59am
Mark Field (mail):
Others have made most of the comments I would have, but does anyone know what this sentence means: "There was Eisenhower himself, whose grandfatherly patience with Faubus seemed to belie a sympathy with this racist's need to hold on to a fading authority."? In context, this is a strange choice of verbs -- belie? Did he mean "suggest"?
9.26.2007 12:21pm
DCraig:
I was being facetious in my last comment, which admittedly didn't come off too well. Ohio Bob makes some really good points about race and education in urban areas in the public vs. private debate. In Chicago it's not Catholic schools but "charter" schools that are majority black or hispanic. I think the problem with a voucher system is that it doesn't take into account things like diversity in student population, existing infrastructure, and regional economic pressures on the education system. Racial division will probably exist in the education system (regardless of school vouchers) as long as the education system is reliant on property taxes for funding.
9.26.2007 12:22pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I don't want to make this thread about vouches, which are controversial and interesting but somewhat off-topic; but I didn't bring it up in the first place, so a few quick responses.

Al: I didn't say anything about folks who run public schools, nor did I say vouchers had caused the problems that afflict some public schools. I said vouchers would make things worse in those public schools.

Bob from Ohio:

Whites, racist or not, don't have to worry much about vouchers causing poor black kids to go to most private schools. Vouchers are typically only a couple of thousand dollars a year, which means they can't pay anywhere near the tuition at most private schools. Rather, they can only pay tuition at schools that are heavily subsidized, typically by churches, typically by the Catholic church. Since you're from Ohio, you should know that the evidence from Cleveland is that kids using vouchers went to Catholic schools at a rate of well over 90%.
9.26.2007 12:45pm
wfjag:
What I haven't seen was "the other side of the story." I graduated from a different H.S., in a different district, also located in Pulaski County, Arkansas. My H.S. opened before the Central H.S. mess. It opened integrated -- race, religion, gender -- administrators, teachers and student body, and always remained that way. The difference was that we were "separate but equal" since we were poor. We viewed Central H.S. as about parents of rich kids not wanting their kids to have to rub elbows with people like us. Color was an important part of the Central H.S. story -- but the important color was Green.

The whole incident was carefully staged. Faubus had been elected as a "reform" Governor, who hadn't done much and was in a tight re-election campaign. Thumbing the nose of the fed gov't was popular politics. It worked out well for him (he was elected to 6 2-year terms, when the Gov. of Arkansas was paid no more than $10K per year. He came into office a man of modest means -- having been a school teacher in a rural county before he was elected -- and left a millionaire). Faubus agreed with the Eisenhower administration to use Ark. Nat'l Guard troops to "block" integration, rather than use State Police. You can't put State Police into federal service, but the Pres. can change Nat'l Guard troops' service from state to federal with the stroke of a pen. So, the troops lined up facing against the Black students to block them, were told they had been placed into federal service, and did an about face to block the demonstrators who were protesting integration. It looked great on TV. So, the Eisenhower administration got what it wanted, too -- TV coverage of its integrating a school in the South.

Another part of the story that isn't being told is what is happening in the Little Rock schools now. The Superintendent is Black. He doesn't believe that a school system should be used to provide patronage jobs. He's been eliminating jobs in the central office and putting those slots into classroom jobs as teachers and aides. He demands high performance and results, and expects school administrators and teachers to work closely with local PTAs. Two Little Rock High Schools are rated as among the top 100 public H.S.s in the US -- Central and Wilber D. Mills. The opposition to the Superintendent's policies is coming from "civil rights" organizations. Maybe not much really has changed in 50 years -- it still seems to be more about money than education.
9.26.2007 1:06pm
Ben P (mail):

Are schools really less segregated today?



It's funny that you should mention that when Central is the subject.

As a previous poster mentioned, Central is rated as one of the top 100 public HS's in the United States.


But in reality, Central is, in reality, two very different high schools. This split is in no way official, but it's very real.

One school is very impressive academically. It has dozens of AP classes, very high standardized test scores, it's top graduates often get into top universities every year. It has teachers that are dedicated and very well educated.

The other school has a room temperature graduation rate, problems with Truancy, alcohol and drug abuse, and much lower test scores than the national average.

Except in the hallways, interaction between these schools is very limited. Rarely do students from one school take classes from another.


One school is very disproportionately White, the other is disproportionately African American.

Is this segregation?
9.26.2007 1:35pm
Fub:
wagnert in atlanta wrote at 9.26.2007 9:18am:
An odd note: In the photograph decorating the linked article in the WSJ, Orval Faubus is holding up the front page of the Manchester Union-Leader -- from New Hampshire. Does anyone's memory go back far enough to explain that?
Yes. The short answer is William Loeb, then Union Leader publisher. whose political views as published in the Union Leader approximated those of the John Birch Society.
Maybe the local papers had reduced themselves to spluttering incoherence and he didn't want that displayed in the national press.
The (then) largest Arkansas daily newspaper, The Arkansas Gazette, edited by Harry Ashmore, took an editorial position unequivocally opposing Faubus' actions, for which the Gazette was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

There is a well known but far too often neglected backstory leading to the events at Little Rock in 1957. The great majority of people of Arkansas did not then, and do not now, remotely resemble the racists who rioted at Little Rock, 1957. The real story of desegregation in Arkansas began in Hoxie, Arkansas even before Brown v. Board came down.

The primary political protagonist whose actions strongly influenced Orval Faubus's decisions in 1957 was "Justice Jim" Johnson. Johnson and his political allies, the local "White Citizens Councils" began their scurrilous campaign in Hoxie well before Little Rock, 1957. Words that would adequately describe the opinion of many Arkansans about "Justice Jim" would likely be banned here.
9.26.2007 1:55pm
Fub:
wfjag wrote at 9.26.2007 12:06pm:
The whole incident was carefully staged. Faubus had been elected as a "reform" Governor, who hadn't done much and was in a tight re-election campaign. Thumbing the nose of the fed gov't was popular politics.
Agreed. To which political flavor I'll add that Faubus' incumbent opponent Francis Cherry had accused him during the 1954 gubernatorial primary of being a commmunist.
9.26.2007 2:36pm
JB:
Y'all, even those echoing me, are misinterpreting what I said.

Racists find the fact that most blacks have substandard educations convenient, because it lets them exercise their racism at little cost, since they encounter fewer qualified blacks. It's far less costly to discriminate against the unqualified.

Since there's a legitimate interest in allowing discrimination against the unqualified, racists hide in this movement. Since affirmative action at the college/professional school level is very often counterproductive and deserving of criticism (look at the many threads on here about law school admissions), there are many people legitimately arguing against it--but also lots of stealth racists.

This is the root of how pro-affirmative action people call all anti-affirmative action people racists. They're arguing "if A, then B" (anti-AA people are racist) when what's true is "if B, then A" (racists are anti-AA) and getting away with it for the same reason anyone ever gets away with poor reasoning.
9.26.2007 2:43pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Since you're from Ohio, you should know that the evidence from Cleveland is that kids using vouchers went to Catholic schools at a rate of well over 90%.


Yes, that is what I said. Catholic schools have large black student bodies. At least with vouchers, the kids have afighting chance, unlike the horrible Cleveland Public schools.

It is not kids using vouchers to go to private schools that is the worry, it is that they will use vouchers to go to public schools in the suburb. So, they oppose vouchers now because of the fear that a succesful voucher program will be expanded to let true school choice take place.
9.26.2007 2:47pm
Bpbatista (mail):
I once heard Julian Bond give a speech lambasting the Republican party as a bunch of racists who never did anything for civil rights and secret admirers of Simon Legree. But reading this story, I am reminded that the author of Brown v. Bd. of Education was Earl Warren, a Republican. That the president who sent troops to Little Rock was Eisenhower, a Republican. And that the Arkansas governor who did his damndest to keep black kids out of school was Orval Faubus, a Democrat.
9.26.2007 2:53pm
Elliot Reed:
There is a well known but far too often neglected backstory leading to the events at Little Rock in 1957. The great majority of people of Arkansas did not then, and do not now, remotely resemble the racists who rioted at Little Rock, 1957.
Well, about a third of the population of Arkansas was black, and they didn't remotely resemble the Little Rock mobs. So if, say, 40% of the white population (other races were negligible) didn't remotely resemble the Little Rock mob, that would make your statement true, but it still leaves the 60% who did.

I'll grant that the majority of white people in Arkansas were probably merely extremely racist, rather than violently racist. Whether that counts as not "remotely resembling" the crowds that went after the Little Rock Nine is left for an exercise for the reader.
The real story of desegregation in Arkansas began in Hoxie, Arkansas even before Brown v. Board came down.
I call bullshit. First, Brown was decided before Hoxie integrated. Second, Hoxie is far from the "real" story of integration in Arkansas. According to (A. Stephen Stephan, Population Ratios, Racial Attitudes, and Desegregation, 26 J. Negro Edu. 22 (Winter 1957), of Arkansas's 228 school districts that included blacks, only 5 had been integrated by the end of 1956, a 2% Brown compliance ratio. The real story was massive resistance.
The primary political protagonist whose actions strongly influenced Orval Faubus's decisions in 1957 was "Justice Jim" Johnson. Johnson and his political allies, the local "White Citizens Councils" began their scurrilous campaign in Hoxie well before Little Rock, 1957. Words that would adequately describe the opinion of many Arkansans about "Justice Jim" would likely be banned here.
I don't doubt that last claim, considering the black population of Arkansas at the time. Also, any group of significant size is likely to include "many" people who hold just about any opinion. And people can hate a political figure for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with substantive objections with their most noxious views. If you want to use this as support for the claim that the bulk of white people in Arkansas opposed segregated schools, you'll have no luck. IIRC, opinion polls showed white opposition to integration in Arkansas at near 100%, though I haven't been able to find a good source for that.
9.26.2007 3:02pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
"the general": Brown v. Board of Education reversed Gong Lum v. Rice, which held that Chinese kids were colored, and could be made to go to the colored school. So those liberal Democrats are the ones who wanted Asians to go to school with whites.

vouchers: Of the private schools, only religious schools are affordable with vouchers. The atheists, U-Us, and secular humanists need to get together and fund some irreligious schools. And from my sister-in-law's experience, there has to be some monitoring of what goes on in these schools: She agreed to teach in a Jewish school with the understanding that the rabbi would have the kids in the morning and she would teach them the secular subjects in the afternoon. Except he kept them learning Torah and consistently shortchanged her teaching time. When the situation showed no sign of improving, she quit.

kids/integration: the kids who do best in schools as they are currently constituted are those whose parents value education most.
9.26.2007 3:36pm
Smokey:
JB:
Hei Lun Chan: No, you have it exactly backwards. Large numbers of quiet racists are hiding among the genuine supporters of school vouchers.
'Large numbers?' Got any proof of that? Or are you name-calling voucher supporters because it's fun 'n' easy?
9.26.2007 4:51pm
byomtov (mail):
I am reminded that the author of Brown v. Bd. of Education was Earl Warren, a Republican.

Yes, and one much reviled by today's Republicans.
9.26.2007 5:07pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
The article said,
There was Eisenhower himself, whose grandfatherly patience with Faubus seemed to belie a sympathy with this racist's need to hold on to a fading authority.

That's a stupid interpretation of Eisenhower's reluctance to use federal troops. Using federal troops was only a last resort.
9.26.2007 5:21pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I had a company commander in 1970 who had been a paratrooper corporal in Little Rock. He commanded a gun jeep. Told me about the ROE--called something different then. Pretty loose.

As some have pointed out, to be white--or to be white from the south or Arkansas--is to be racist.

As Steele says, they now have to prove a negative in the face of people whose interests, including financial, depend on not being convinced.

My suggestion is to answer..."You think so? How about that."
9.26.2007 6:11pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And 23 years later, Ronald Reagan supported Faubus' "state's rights" segregationist position when he went to Philadelphia, Mississippi to kick off his 1980 campaign.
He went to the Neshoba County Fair, where politicians appearing in Mississippi go to give speeches.
Of course, we can have an intellectual discussion about federalism without implicating racism. But Reagan intentionally chose to raise the "state's rights" flag in a the place where "state's rights" meant the right to murder uppity black people.
And if he had said it somewhere near Little Rock, you'd have said that "state's rights" meant the right to keep black kids out of school. And if he had said it somewhere near Montgomery, you'd have said that "state's rights" meant the right to keep blacks from voting, or to keep them from riding in the front of buses. And if he had said it somewhere near Birmingham, you'd have said that "state's rights" meant the right to blow up black churches. And if he had said it somewhere near Richmond, you'd have said that "state's rights" meant the right to own slaves.

Newsflash: bad race-related things happened all across the south. Liberals would have picked some incident in any place Reagan spoke and claimed that Reagan's speech was an allusion to that incident.

Has anybody actually heard Reagan's speech, or are they just pretending they know what he said because the media pulled a two-word sound bite out of a long speech?
9.26.2007 6:28pm
wfjag:
Dear Fub:

Thanks for reminding me of Mr. Cherry and "Justice Jim".

There was the wonderful Faubus ad of him appearing with a painted face -- to show that Cherry was smearing him. And, a TV ad of Faubus speaking with someone who kind of looked like Cherry throwing mud at him.

And, the even better pix in the Arkansas Gazette of "Justice Jim" standing in front of the white eagle statue on the Univ. of Ark. at Little Rock campus, when he was running for Governor (I believe it was against Dale Bumpers).

For those who don't know about Justice Jim, well, sometimes he seemed to be hearing things that the rest of us didn't, and he seemed inspired by that. The pix made it look like he had angel's wings.
9.26.2007 6:30pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Bob:

Vouchers aren't normally thought of as a way to get students into a different public school system. Vouchers are normally thought of as a way to get into private schools. But pretty much the only private schools that vouchers will pay the freight for are Catholic schools. I'll let this issue go now, because it's not the main point of the thread.
9.26.2007 8:46pm
JB:
Smokey,
I am a voucher supporter. You're accusing me of saying the very thing I'm decrying. It really shouldn't be that difficult to understand, and I'm tired of repeating myself.
9.26.2007 10:10pm
Fub:
Elliot Reed wrote at 9.26.2007 2:02pm:
[Fub wrote:] The real story of desegregation in Arkansas began in Hoxie, Arkansas even before Brown v. Board came down.

[Elliot Reed wrote:] I call bullshit. First, Brown was decided before Hoxie integrated. Second, Hoxie is far from the "real" story of integration in Arkansas. According to (A. Stephen Stephan, Population Ratios, Racial Attitudes, and Desegregation, 26 J. Negro Edu. 22 (Winter 1957), of Arkansas's 228 school districts that included blacks, only 5 had been integrated by the end of 1956, a 2% Brown compliance ratio. The real story was massive resistance.
True that Hoxie officially desegregated immediately after Brown came down. I lived in Arkansas at the time. My recollection of dinnertable and other discussions of events at the time is that The Hoxie school board and school administration's planning, and indeed its collective goal prior to Brown, had been to desegregate. They were anticipating, and indeed hoping for, Brown, essentially to provide political and legal basis for what they already wanted to do.

As to "massive resistance", Harry Byrd and his legislative initiatives were in Virginia, not Arkansas.
[Fub wrote:] The primary political protagonist whose actions strongly influenced Orval Faubus's decisions in 1957 was "Justice Jim" Johnson. Johnson and his political allies, the local "White Citizens Councils" began their scurrilous campaign in Hoxie well before Little Rock, 1957. Words that would adequately describe the opinion of many Arkansans about "Justice Jim" would likely be banned here.

[Elliot Reed wrote:] I don't doubt that last claim, considering the black population of Arkansas at the time. Also, any group of significant size is likely to include "many" people who hold just about any opinion. And people can hate a political figure for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with substantive objections with their most noxious views. If you want to use this as support for the claim that the bulk of white people in Arkansas opposed segregated schools, you'll have no luck. IIRC, opinion polls showed white opposition to integration in Arkansas at near 100%, though I haven't been able to find a good source for that.
I should have written "opinion of many white Arkansans". Jim Johnson was never politically about anything except segregation. But he wasn't stupid. He used covers like "states rights" to make his purposes appear palatable to some who couldn't see through his subterfuge. But he was always focussed on segregation and racial hatred. Those who detested him did so because of his rabidly racist politics -- at least among the people whom I knew at the time.

There were quite a few high profile racists like Johnson. They got plenty press. There were also a few high profile heroes who are often overlooked. The late Harry Ashmore is one I recall. There were also thousands of low profile and forgotten heroes. I account many schoolteachers who taught me among them. I think that they, not Jim Johnson or Orval Faubus, far more accurately represented the views of Arkansans at the time. Lots of ordinary people took serious risks of being targeted by the Jim Johnson acolytes of the world, just to do the right thing.

I doubt I can persuade you that my views of that time are not bullshit. But if they are bullshit, they are bullshit based on first hand experience living in the state when the events happened.
9.26.2007 11:00pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Since everyone likes to dump on Sidwell Friends, here are their demographics from 2004 (the web has everything).

Demographics Year
Enrollment 1094 2004
Student Teacher Ratio 8.22 2004
White, non-Hispanic 68.75% 2004
Black, non-Hispanic 16.98% 2004
Hispanic 3.54% 2004
Asian/Pacific Islander 10.73% 2004

As to vouchers, the Catholic diocese in DC has come up with a plan to move a number of smaller parochial schools into charter status. How they maintain the Catholic character of the schools if they do this is another question.
9.26.2007 11:29pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
"And if he had said it somewhere near Little Rock, you'd have said that "state's rights" meant the right to keep black kids out of school. And if he had said it somewhere near Montgomery, you'd have said that "state's rights" meant the right to keep blacks from voting, or to keep them from riding in the front of buses. And if he had said it somewhere near Birmingham, you'd have said that "state's rights" meant the right to blow up black churches. And if he had said it somewhere near Richmond, you'd have said that "state's rights" meant the right to own slaves."

True.

•••

And if Reagan did in fact go to the old confederacy and used the term "state's rights" then there is in my mind only one conclusion: he was looking for the racist vote.

Yes, there can be a principled conservative and wholly non-racist view that the Federal government should devolve power back to the states. But nobody with the savvy of Reagan or his speechwriters would use the term "state's rights" to forward such a view without understanding its racial import. The term is deliberately inflammatory — assuming he used it.
9.27.2007 12:48am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Eli Rabett:

The Sidwell Friends Demographics don't surprise me as DC has a many influential blacks. Nevertheless many parents of those students tend tell other people to support the public school system by using it. For example the very liberal newspaper columnist Tom Wicker wrote articles against private schools. One day, he got ambushed by the 60-Minutes guys as he was picking up his children from Sidwell Friends. They asked some embarrassing questions, and he was really steamed. For a minute I thought he might punch someone. I also remember John V. Lindsey, (mayor of New York City 1966-1974) telling us New Yorkers not to send our children to private school because it was causing the school system to look segregated. Then one day a reporter asked him why he sent his own children to private school. He said it was traditional for his family to use that school. These days reporters don't seem to ask those embarrassing questions of liberal politicians. I had neighbors who were public school teachers who constantly admonished us about using private schools. Later I found out that they sent both their kids to private school right from kindergarten on.
9.27.2007 1:03am