Day three (Oklahoma City - Little Rock)

Apologies to eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas, both of which provided lovely scenery (bright red dirt, huge trees, fields of wildflowers and tall grass) and astronaut hometowns which I couldn't stop to grab shots of due to lots of road construction. 

I ended the day at Little Rock Central High School. Today, it's both a national park and a functioning (really lovely!) high school campus. In 1957, it became a symbol of resistance to federal efforts to end racial segregation in public schools, when images of federal troops escorting the nine black students enrolled in the school past enraged white protestors were broadcast worldwide. 

I got up every morning, polished my saddle shoes, and went off to war
— Melba Pattillo Beals

The nine students continued to suffer once they were inside. Students threw acid at one of the girls, Melba Pattillo, in the hallway. They continued to be by turns harassed, abused, or ignored. After appealing the federal mandate to end school segregation, the governor of Arkansas closed Little Rock's public schools rather than see black students in formerly all white campuses including Central High. He hoped to lease the buildings to private schools, which would remain segregated. The schemed didn't work. Students returned to Little Rock's public schools , but many white parents and students blamed the Little Rock Nine for the "lost year," and the abuse against them continued.

School is out for summer, (which I totally forgot about), so the campus was quiet. Every few minutes, someone would walk across from the visitor's center and stand on the lawn taking pictures. One women took her shot, lowered her camera and said in a surprised voice "It's so beautiful! I never knew."