Little Rock 9 Nine, Testament by John Deering at Arkansas State Capitol
Address for GPS Coordinates
gps coordinates 34.74625,-92.29065
Testament by John Deering, a monument honoring the Little Rock Nine
"It was a seven-year labor of love for John Deering. It was not only his artistry, but also his vision to honor the Little Rock Nine that gave birth to Testament , on the grounds of the State Capitol."
Taken from a brochure gotten in part by a grand from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities . These brochures are free to the public.
The flyers are in a 'realtor' box stand between Testament and the Liberty Bell.
Justice and Civil Rights, Testament by John Deering, 2010
I have cared about the Civil Rights movement since August 23, 1963, when I heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's famous "I have a Dream Speech ." I was a very young child, standing in my California living room. His words pierced my heart .
He was speaking from a couple of thousand miles away in Alabama, but after living in the Southern States of North America, I later realized Dr. King was also speaking from at least a half century away.
I could not imagine that other human beings were considered different because their skin color was not white (or shades of pale ). As a child I could see a head, arms, legs, a need for food, a desire for love and belonging, the ability to be moved emotionally to laugh and cry ...the skin or covering of the human did not make the person a different class or designation of being. I was a little kid and that was simple to see these facts add up.
A tiger has stripes, a leopard spots, a kitty cat can have any number of markings, but they are still felines and animals. A Siamese cat is no better or more valuable than a Leopard . A Red bird does not have more rights than a Bluebird . A tree that bares avocado does not become subservient to an apricot or oak .
Testament: by John Deering Memorial to the Little Rock 9, at the Arkansas State CapitolClick thumbnail to view full-size
1960's History Books Left Off Desegregation
Isn't this easy? I could see on my television screen, news casts where people of all colors were marching together to stop this dividing and maltreatment of People , I was forever changed.
In the 3rd Grade, each student in our class was given an assignment to do a report on a State. They were chosen for us - I was in Alhambra, California...I got Arkansas. This was in 1967. I learned about the State Bird - it is the Mockingbird, the State Tree- is the Pine, the Flower is the beautiful Dogwood and so on. I never found anything that talked about desegregation, integration, or segregation. Remember, there was no Internet, and no information Highway. We got information in our text books that did not yet tell the tale of Little Rock and Central High School.
How would I know that in 1976, my first husband would take me back home to his family's 'farm' in rural Arkansas. Where his folks live at the foot of the Ozark Mountains. The population on the town sign read 333. I was in awe of the beautiful trees and wild growth. In Southern California we had a lot of concrete and in comparison, much less greenery.
It was a surreal experience as we slowly drove through town, a mere 90 miles from Little Rock, Arkansas. I would not visit there until 1981. There is a town square where all the locals were hanging out. There were really old men in overalls whittling and gossiping in front of the Drug Store. As we continued through the town, on the way out to his home place, teenagers were walking through town, proudly displaying their shotguns and boxes of shells. It was hunting season . I was startled to say the least. I just came from Southern California and an entirely different world.
It was not until several weeks later, that I realized signs posted at both ends of the town, Reading: "Warning, to 'people of color', if yer not 'awtt of town by sundown, y'll be hanged...",was directed at human beings!
This was 1976 . I felt like I had entered a real life scary movie! I was too young to know then, that Truth is Stranger than fiction . It was not until after 2000 that people of color moved to this town - honestly, I don't know why they would want to.
Little Rock Nine History Documentary
2006 A Famous Hanging Tree Remains Near Town Square
As of 2006, the famous hanging tree was still standing close to the first "County Seat" and Town Square.
For those who live in places where the Civil Rights battle was over long ago, it is hard to imagine that people who could not read or write, and were steeped in ignorance - (Churches on every street corner, and boasting Christianity), felt superior to people with darker skin.
In Little Rock, in the 1970s there were still separate entrances, drinking fountains and public pools for blacks and whites. The Civil Rights movement is not so far removed from here. Thankfully, more education has brought an awareness and understanding of what makes a person human and equal; and the "old guard" is dying out.
A War Rages for Human and Civil Rights and Equality For All
Yesterday, September 15, 2010, I took some time out to go and visit the "Testament" , instead of my quick and daily drive-by. Being older I realize that even though I still care about the Civil Rights movement, and I cannot stand injustice or prejudice, I cannot daily bare this emotional load, and so it is easy to just let it be a thing of the past.
Last week, one of the Little Rock Nine passed away. Jefferson Thomas; whose quote, is forever inscribed by artist John Derring in bronze; "As a youth, God blessed me with the courage of men. As a man, He gave me the spirit of youth." I heard it on the news, but with all of the other world events, it was not so moving to me.
As I began to walk closely, and observe the expressions captured by the sculptor, snapping photos on this beautiful September 11, 2010. My heart began to be pierced once again...I started reading the 9 quotations inlaid at the feet of the Dais, spaced evenly in this circle. As I took the steps of a free woman, bending over to read and take pictures, tears started falling.
In 1967, I felt called, stirred, moved to do something to help my fellow man, but I did not "know" the tribulation lived every day by a person of color in the South , and in Arkansas . I can only empathize, but I can hopefully convey this feeling to each reader.
Yesterday, on Saturday the 11th of September, 2010 - I was focused on letting you see what I am seeing, and hopefully conveying some of what I feel to you. I saw the Wreath on one of the statues of the Nine, but I didn't "connect" Mr. Thomas's passing.
I came home, putting this Hub/Article together, and searched for links, videos and other historical data to make this interesting and factual. One of the videos linked is from a young person who did a YouTube video of the actual Integration of Central High School in Little Rock, AR of that fateful Fall of 1957. It is well put together, and stirred my emotions even deeper.
I Returned Home This Sculpture Lays Heavy on my Heart
There were also some news articles about Jefferson Thomas's passing and his Obituary . It was while reading these that I learned an amazing thing about The Little Rock Nine. I learned that the Plaques and Statues of the "Testament" , rendered of each of the Little Rock Nine,are not in any particular order. The reason for this is, they want to be considered as The Little Rock Nine - not Individuals. Without the strength of each other, and Ms. Daisy Bates - They could not have had the courage, and fortitude to stand against the tide of violence, ignorance, and hatred.
The wreath and other flowers put on Jefferson Thomas's likeness was the first time an individual was distinguished from the others, but Elizabeth Eckford did ask that they continue to be remembered as "The Nine ".
Today, Sunday September 12th, I returned to pay my respects, and to take a closer look this "Testament" of the Little Rock Nine. I was moved in my heart at the expressions on the faces ofThe Nine and their postures captured by John Deering.
This gave me a chance to look across the street, and take a photo of the Department of Education Building. It is within a few hundred yards of the "Testament" . An Arkansas State Agency that has been embroiled in this same Desegregation Lawsuit for over 50 years.
I photographed the empty flagpole that stands proudly next to the Department of Education. Honestly, I think I captured some ghosts.
I wanted to check out the Covered Liberty Bell Structure within a few feet of the"Testament". "In God We Trust" is inscribed on the structure sheltering the Liberty Bell..WhileNine young Students stand against prejudice and ignorance in the Wind, Sun and Rain... Heroes of U.S. American History.
Wiping the tears from my face, I just shake my head, and go home...
Testament at the State Capitol, little rock, ar
The statues of the Little Rock Nine are found on the Markham street entrance.
Within Sight of the "Testament"
Arkansas Mosaic Templars Cultural Center gps 34.74087,-92.27672
- Welcome to the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
Explore the history of African-Americans in Arkansas at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Tour the center and join in the celebration of black achievements of the past and present.
- Current Exhibit
“Freedom! Oh, Freedom!” Arkansas’s People of African Descent and the Civil War: 1861-1866.
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
Built by hard work and determination. Much of the recent Little Rock civil rights work and historical figures are highlighted.
Little Rock Nine - Elizabeth Eckford Mothershed
© 2010 Lori J Latimer
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