We arrived at the RV park at Camp Robinson early in the afternoon on Wednesday, March 23rd. Camp Robinson essentially has two campgrounds, the older one, designed for smaller RVs and tent sites, and a new one with long pull-through sites for large RVs. Unfortunately all of the pull-through sites were taken, but we were able to get into one of the older sites. It was a tight fit to back into the site, but the view of the small lake made the effort worth it. It was interesting to came back to Camp Robinson. This is the home of the National Guard Professional Education Center and I had been here many times for training and conferences.
At the top of our list of places to see was the Clinton Presidential Library. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you liked a president or not, we always visit a presidential library if we are camping nearby. To date we have visited the libraries of Presidents Kennedy, Ford, G. W. Bush, and Clinton. Each library has its own unique way of memorializing their president.
The Clinton Library began with a short video that described President Clinton’s early life and his campaign for President. The main gallery is a timeline of his Presidency in a center aisle with alcoves off to the side that provide greater detail of some of the key elements of that segment of time. The display, “Life in the White House,” described state dinners, holidays, and family celebrations. There are also replicas of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room as they appeared during Clinton’s time in office.
After touring the Clinton Library, we walked through a part of the River Market District. We ran into a local TV reporter who gave us a great recommendation for lunch at Gus’s Fried Chicken. Good food, good prices – check it out! Along the River Market is the Witt Stephens Jr. Nature Center. I thought it was unusual to find a nature center in a downtown area, but it was a nice and informative place to visit. Judging by the crowds we experienced, it must be a popular place for groups.
Our last stop of the day was the Little Rock Central High School. This was the site of the first significant test of the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown versus Board of Education. In 1958, Governor Orval Fabius undercut a local effort to begin a gradual integration of Little Rock schools. Governor Fabius ordered the National Guard to block the entry of nine students, who would later be known as the “Little Rock Nine,” from Little Rock’s Central High School. A court ordered the National Guard to be withdrawn and President Eisenhower ordered soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division to escort the students to school and between classes. This was the first act to put an end to the concept of “separate but equal” schools and facilities for blacks.
Today even young adults may have a difficult time understanding the public attitudes of that time. This is one of those times that America is not proud of, but history is history and we have learned from this and made changes that have benefited many – it all began with the Little Rock Nine.