I got the early start I’d hoped for that Sunday morning. There were only two stops in Little Rock: the historic Central High School, site of the first effort by nine African American students to attend the all-white school 59 years ago, and the President William Clinton Library. I still had a ten-hour drive home and had some hope of getting there with enough time to get some sleep before going to work the next day.
Little Rock Central High School was situated in a quiet neighborhood that seemed at least predominately African American, quite different than it must have been in 1957. Its size surprised me as the primary building took up the entire block alone. I hadn’t arranged to get a tour of the school in advance, so I had to content myself with pictures of the exterior. I did, however, go across the street to the visitor center maintained by the National Park Service–the high school is the sole school of its type in the park system. The center had a number of displays about the events that led up to and surrounded those tense days, and there was a film presented about the young women and men who were the Little Rock Nine. I was also able to purchase a new medallion to commemorate my visit for my walking stick.
This stop was another reminder to me that African Americans not only face challenging times today, but we have throughout the history of this country. We have to do honor to those who gave so much–even their lives–to secure our rights as American citizens.
I had earlier learned that the presidential library didn’t open until 1 p.m., so I stopped for lunch at a seafood place and made my way to the library. This was not my first presidential library visit–in fact I’d just visited the one for Herbert Hoover this past April. The facilities had been small enough that I could tour the exhibits in about an hour, so I had decided to wait despite the fact that it would mean leaving for home after 2 p.m.
The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum dwarfed those other libraries to the extent that I immediately realized that even a single hour would not be sufficient time to visit, and I know myself well enough to know that I would be all too easily tempted to extend my visit far longer than I should. So, I reluctantly took some exterior shots and set my GPS towards home.
For a state capitol, Little Rock seemed to have few major roadways in or out. The route actually took me further west towards Oklahoma before heading north through Kansas City and eventually east through Des Moines and my current stomping grounds. The Ozarks provided beautiful, mountain scenery as we drove through. We were making pretty good time until the rains came, worse–if possible–than yesterday’s. Another couple of hours lost, plus the many hours of wear were catching up with me. I was forced to stop to catnap.
At last, RB and I backed into the driveway of home. I checked her odometer, which read 141,279 miles–meaning the total trip distance was 5,242 miles. (That’s only my third longest trip, BTW.) I posted my arrival on Facebook at 3:21 a.m. Monday and was stretched out in my bed by3:30 a.m.
After all, I was supposed to be at work in 4 1/2 hours….