Filling a gap in Democrat-Gazette coverage of Central High event | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Filling a gap in Democrat-Gazette coverage of Central High event

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 7:26 AM

NOT QUOTABLE: Thelma Mothershed Wair.
  • NOT QUOTABLE: Thelma Mothershed Wair.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette gave extensive page one treatment today to the two-hour program Monday marking the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School by nine black students escorted by federal troops.

But let me fix one omission.

The D-G article contained quotes from seven of the eight living members of the Little Rock Nine who attended the event. No quote was included from Thelma Mothershed Wair, the retired school teacher who now lives in Little Rock. She was on stage, in a wheelchair. A statement by her was read by her grandson, Gabriel. It said, in part:

"Proliferation of charter schools has given us cause for concern for the future of conventional public education. "
Note: The Democrat-Gazette, thanks to its publisher, has been an outspoken advocate for the proliferation of charter schools in the Little Rock School District.

I didn't record the program, but I hope to get a copy of Wair's full remarks to further plug that gap. If nothing else, the D-G editorial page can use the quotes for more pro-charter fodder.

I noted this, too, in the D-G's coverage.
Some remarks reflected Democratic Party positions in an audience that included some of Arkansas' highest-ranking Republican leaders.
Democratic Party positions? Implicit and explicit criticism of Donald Trump, yes, particularly when it comes to his racially inflammatory words and deeds, and laments about evidence of persistent inequality. (Is that to say defense of inequality is a Republican position?)

It would not surprise me to find that the surviving Little Rock Nine might take some exception to being seen as partisan mouthpieces rather than as independent, free-thinking adults. As Minnijean Brown Trickey said to me at an event Sunday night and repeated at Monday's program: "We are not stupid."

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