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Little Rock Central High

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL HIGH

Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I thank my colleagues for something they have done not just for me or even for the city of Little Rock or the State of Arkansas but for the country. They are trying to help on a project we are working on, Little Rock Central High School.

In 1957, the two biggest stories in the world that year were Sputnik and Little Rock Central High School because Little Rock was the first major southern school district to try to integrate their schools to try to follow the law as laid out in Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, KS, and to try with all deliberate speed to integrate their schools.

They took that charge seriously and, as we all know, the situation there got chaotic and very difficult. There has been a lot written about it. It is one of the major milestones in the history of the struggle for civil rights in this country.

In September of 2007, Little Rock Central will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation crisis at Little Rock Central High. We all know the story of the Little Rock Nine-Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, Thelma Mothershed Wair, and Melba Pattillo Beals.

We all know the story of these brave children who went into the lion's den, so to speak, to strike a blow against the old system of "separate but equal" that was not working, and was fair. That was not right.

They showed tremendous courage not just for themselves and their personal safety, but they led by example. It is very important we as a Nation honor them and honor Little Rock for making the effort, and honor the school for all the progress they made since 1957.

Little Rock Central High School now is considered one of the best high schools in America. It has been an amazing success story. It shows how things can work when the community pulls together and tries to put difficulties of the past behind them.

I could talk on and on about how proud I am of the Little Rock Nine and the way Little Rock has handled the situation, but today I thank Members of this Senate for their support of S. 420. It is critical to acknowledge what happened at Little Rock 47 years ago.

I thank two Members of this body specifically who really helped get this on track: first, CONRAD BURNS, who is the Interior Subcommittee chairman; and then the ranking member on that subcommittee, BYRON DORGAN. They have both been fantastic. Their staffs have helped. They have made arrangements for us to get $733,000 in this Interior appropriations bill in order to do the design phase of the new visitor center at Little Rock Central High School.

Our goal is to try to have the visitor center completed and totally constructed and up and running by the September 2007 anniversary. But we could not have done this without Senator Burns and Senator Dorgan because they have shown a great deal of leadership. Also, I must say, Bruce Evans, Ric Molen, and Peter Kiefhaber, on their staffs, have been great to work with.

Another group that Senator Lincoln and I both want to thank is the Congressional Black Caucus over on the House side. They have been fantastic. In fact, they have entered a sister resolution to this, and all 38 members of the Black Caucus signed on to the resolution. They have been great. Chairman ELIJAH CUMMINGS has shown some great leadership on this issue, and it has brought hope to the civil rights community for this hopefully very positive celebration they will have in 2007.

The last person I want to thank, who is always there working behind the scenes trying to get things done for his congressional district, is Congressman VIC SNYDER. VIC SNYDER has shown great leadership in this matter, as he does consistently in everything he does. He has worked behind the scenes and he has worked with all sides. He is doing everything he can to make sure this becomes a reality, again not just for his district or the State but really for the Nation.

So, Mr. President, again, I thank everyone for their help and their support in what we are trying to do at Little Rock Central High School. I happen to have gone there. I am very proud of that school. It is a great landmark in the struggle for civil rights. The people in Arkansas decided to make Little Rock Central not stand for a negative but stand for a positive, stand for progress. It is something that certainly the community but also the State has rallied around. We are very proud of what they have done at Little Rock.

Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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