We made a promise to ourselves after visiting Little Rock: We will not let people’s comments bias us against a place we want to visit.
When we announced that we were headed to Missouri we got a lot of comments like, “Missouri? You won’t see much there.” After spending only two weeks in that beautiful state, we wished we could have spent another two months! There was so much more we could have seen at the state parks alone. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn and we listened to people who told us that Little Rock wasn’t worth a stop. Boy, were they wrong!
We visited Little Rock from November 17–19. We really only had one day to sight see but we all fell in love with this friendly, clean and historical city. We saw the beautiful capitol building lit up at night and then at dusk with a beautiful Arkansas sunset behind it. The building is smaller than other capitols we have visited but it is no less majestic.
The architecture in Little Rock is worth a stop in and of itself. We were especially taken with the beauty of Little Rock Central High School where the Arkansas Nine stood up against the angry crowds that wanted to keep nine young African Americans from attending the high school and claiming their rights of desegregation. The Visitor Center across the street from the high school is another great part of our National Parks Service. It starts out by highlighting the writing of the U.S. Constitution and who “We The People” really meant and who were excluded. This was very poignant for the girls having just studied this a couple of months ago. It then moved on to the history of Central High School itself and ended with what is still taking place in the area of civil rights. The park rangers were very courteous and helpful in answering our many questions. I was pleased that even though we aren’t anywhere near the 1950s in our study of U.S. History, the park tied in events that we had already studied and how they affected the Civil Rights Movement. Central High School still holds classes so we weren’t able to go in (we had missed the tour) but we did walk the grounds.
A few years ago, I read several of the recent First Lady’s autobiographies. I remember a couple of them discussing the building of their husband’s presidential library’s. One of them said that no matter what your politics, you should visit every presidential library you can because they aren’t just about that president but represent the history of the country during his term/terms.
She was right!
We spent most of our afternoon at The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. The library is beautiful and very well done. Barry and I were amazed at all we had forgotten of the Clinton years as we walked through the exhibit of the timeline. Notebooks full of the Presidents daily schedules accompanied the timeline and were very interesting to look at. Even the girls, who were very little during Clinton’s presidency, thumbed through the notebooks. There are various letters on display that Clinton received from a number of famous people, a display showing the process that goes into the writing of a State of the Union speech , a replica of the oval office and cabinet room during his terms, a movie narrated by Clinton and various artifacts. We greatly enjoyed viewing the many gifts the Clintons were given by many Americans and various Heads of State. There were many little tidbits about the presidency itself that were very fascinating. Our campground was across the river from the library so we walked across the Clinton Bridge that spans the Arkansas River. The grounds around the library are unique and beautiful. The museum staff was very nice (I mean really nice) and at the ready to answer questions. We look forward to visiting all the presidential libraries we can.
On temporary display at the museum is The Art of Brick featuring the work of artist Nathan Sawaya who builds his art with Legos. Mind boggling and very cool!
Little Rock Central High School: http://www.nps.gov/chsc/index.htm
William J. Clinton Library and Museum: http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/
The Art of Brick: http://www.brickartist.com/