Favorite

Freedom riders 

Hope reigns on the road to Obama's encore.

A few weeks back, Arkansas Times editor Lindsey Millar hit the staff with a proposal: Did anyone want to take a seat on one of the buses chartered by the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and ride from Little Rock to Washington, D.C., with a group of Arkansans for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama?

I had to think about it.

There's a reason I'd never been further northeast than Knoxville and no further west as an adult than Lawton, Okla. I hate strange bathrooms and strange beds. I hate arranging my toothbrush and travel-size toiletries on hotel vanities. To boot, a little figuring found that it would be over 22 hours to D.C. by bus.

On the other hand, I'm a Democrat, and I know that while America loves to give presidents two terms, they usually don't give the same party three or more. There's every chance in the world that I will be north of 50 years old before another president is elected who I'd actually want to see inaugurated.

Above all that, though, was the idea of standing shoulder to shoulder with people from this state I love — some of them old enough to remember the Central High Crisis in 1957, others young enough that their first vote was cast for Obama — when we gave our first black president an encore.

So I said I'd do it. I would go. It was, as a writer much better than me once said: the best of times, and the worst of times.

Welcome to the Tour Bus California

This is the bus in the middle of the night, droning east: black hallway where the minutes shuffle past, full of the pained little noises of sleepers and the whine of the big diesel engine out back. There was nothing to see other than the occasional spray of city lights, or cars swimming dreamily into and out of the glare from the running lamps. We had loaded the six buses in Little Rock at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and were gone by 6 — around 330 souls, with over 100 of those being students from UCA, Philander Smith, Shorter College, Harding and Little Rock's eStem public charter school.

Standing around waiting to feed our bags to the bus, I'd talked to DeKevious Wilson, a grad student at Arkansas Tech University. He said he was going on the trip with friends, but would have gone regardless. While Obama's first term hadn't been flawless in his eyes, Wilson said he believed the president had done the best he could.

"To be in the same air that he and the first family are breathing, that's good enough for me," Wilson said. "It would make me feel like an American. Of course, I feel like an American every time I vote, but just to be there and see that history will make me even prouder to be an American."

Loaded up, I soon found myself pressed in closer than I ever wanted to be to Times photographer Brian Chilson, both of us crammed into the very last seat of bus No. 6. There were televisions, but somehow we wound up watching the same two-hour Gospel Music Awards broadcast twice, on a loop. Later on, we would watch the worst comedy in the history of the world (synopsis: Martin Lawrence stars as a rough-edged NBA coach who takes on a misfit team of junior high basketball players and makes them champions!) and a miniseries about The Temptations, which was a bit too much Temptation even for a diehard fan of "My Girl" and "Papa was a Rollin' Stone."

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by David Koon

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Latest in Cover Stories

  • Vive la resistance!

    House Minority Leader Michael John Gray wants to chair the Democratic Party of Arkansas. His plan to lead the party back to relevance: Start listening to Arkansas again.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • A new day for child welfare?

    After strategizing for months, DHS officials have a plan to address Arkansas's foster care crisis.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Jeff Nichols, 'Loving' and the space in between

    The Little Rock native turns to an unheralded chapter of the civil rights era with his new film.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Vive la resistance!

    House Minority Leader Michael John Gray wants to chair the Democratic Party of Arkansas. His plan to lead the party back to relevance: Start listening to Arkansas again.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Learning to love North Little Rock in Park Hill

    • My father in law built this house from WW2 materials he bought cheap. The walls…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: A killing in Pocahontas

    • my name is kimberly some parts are true some are not travis was a victum…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • We are not asking you to place a stent in the Democrats Heart nor to…

    • on December 4, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation