Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Challenge

On September 25, 1957, the "Little Rock Nine" entered Central High under the protection of federal troops. We tend to think of the challenge for these students as ending when they were allowed to enter the building; however, more realistically it is safe to say that there challenge was just beginning. Many of these students faced being harassed in the hallways and bathrooms and countless other forms of discrimination and intimidation. I sometimes wonder how difficult it must have been for students who were sympathetic to these new students and desired to help them out or just welcome them to their new school. This is a challenge that each of you should think about. Would you have risked your own physical well being in an attempt to challenge the prevailing ideas of the authority figures in your community, including your teachers, religious authorities, and even your parents? Here is an example of a student who did just that. On September 19 Jane Emery, co-editor of the Central High School's student newspaper, The Tiger, wrote a letter to her fellow students entitled "Can We Meet the Challenge?"

You are being watched! Today the world is watching you, the students of Central High. They want to know what your reactions, behavior impulses will be concerning a matter now before us. After all, as we see it, it settles now to a matter of interpretation of law and order.

Will you be stubborn, obstinate, or refuse to listen to both sides of the question? Will your knowledge of science help you determine your action or will you let customs, superstition, or tradition determine the decision for you?

This is the chance that the youth of America has been waiting for. Through an open mind, broad outlook, wise thinking, and a careful choice you can prove that America's youth has not "gone to the dogs" that their moral, spiritual, and educational standards are not being lowered. This is the opportunity for you as citizens of Arkansas and students of Little Rock Central High to show the world that Arkansas is a progressive thriving state of wide-awake alert people. It is a state that is rapidly growing and improving its social, health, and educational facilities. That it is a
state with friendly, happy, and conscientious citizens who love and cherish their freedom.

It has been said that life is just a chain of problems. If this is true, then this experience in making up your own mind and determining right from wrong will be of great value to you in life.

This challenge is yours, as future adults of America, to prove your maturity, intelligence, and ability to make decisions by how you react, behave, and conduct yourself in this controversial question. What is your answer to this challenge?


What issues must your generation address? To what extent are you even informed about issues that potentially could affect you and those around you? What are you willing to do to help address those issues and what are you willing to personally sacrifice to achieve those goals? What do you see when you look at those images of students your own age jeering, spitting and physically harming other students, whether it is at Central High or at a lunch-counter where students are attempting to order a burger? There is no civil rights movement without people your own age willing to act.

1 comment:

Michael said...

It seems to me that people my age are much more passive then young adults were many years ago. There are children today who "react, behave, and conduct" themselves minimally. They are people who sit on the couch all day watching television instead of doing something productive; they are people who go to school purely because they have to and do their homework just to get it done; they are people who retreat from their obligation as human beings to leave the world a better place than they found it.

There are too many of these people today. Thankfully, there are others who do care enough to make up for the ones who don't. Caring isn't everything. It does no good to watch from afar and sympathize with the person who is spat while trying to order a burger. It does no good to feel bad for the countless number of oppressed and abused citizens who have been denied their basic civil rights. Pure emotion does not make progress. Action makes progress--action rooted in emotion. Before our generation can make progress, our generation needs to learn how to act.