Favorite

Forget 1957; talk about today 

Central High Little Rock 1957 image

A task force of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce pitched a proposal last week to repeal a 1957 Little Rock City Board resolution that cheered Gov. Orval Faubus for fighting to preserve segregation at Central High School.

There's no harm in decrying a craven act, even from the safety of 54 passed years and even though this resolution had no legal significance at the time. It was such a minor footnote that even premier historians of the school crisis didn't recall it. The task force also urged review of city ordinances for any vestiges of discrimination. Said one of the backers about the effort:

"This is an important step in identifying and correcting systemic bias which by its definition might have been built into the way we do business as a community."

Oh, if only the chamber of commerce really was serious about correcting systemic bias.

It could begin by refusing the $200,000 in tax money given to the Chamber of Commerce each year. This money directly subsidizes the chamber's fight against a living wage, organized labor, universal health care, progressive taxation, a just workers compensation system and an open door to the courthouse for injured people.

Talk about systemic bias must begin, however, with Little Rock's governance. It's the best the business establishment could preserve when citizens demanded some ward representation, but it's good enough. With three at-large directors on the 10-member city board, winners of the expensive citywide races invariably represent the business establishment. In combination with the directors from prosperous wards, the business establishment controls city government.

Little Rock is majority-minority. Blacks and Latinos outnumber whites. Yet only three of the 10 board members are black. That black neighborhoods feel overlooked and underrepresented was clear in the recent sales tax election. The tax was opposed by black voters but carried to victory by Chamber of Commerce money and extraordinary winning margins in a handful of upper crust neighborhoods.

Chamber support for a symbolic gesture toward racial healing is even more ironic when you consider local schools.

A Chamber employee continues to work to legislate an at-large election system for the Little Rock School Board, currently majority black.

The Chamber's egalitarian spirit can also be measured by its support for people who are resegregating local schools. The Chamber used its mailing list to distribute a letter from a lobbyist for the Walton family fortune that described every dollar spent by the state on desegregation in Little Rock as a total waste. This is money owed by the state as a direct result of Faubus policies and their support in 1957 by people like the City Board and leaders of the Chamber of Commerce. More than a few thousand black and white grads put the lie to the Walton stooge's libel of them.

The Chamber has supported the Walton-financed drive for more charter schools in Pulaski County. These schools divert middle class children into privately run schools that fracture support for the public school system.

No one has demonstrated that the charter schools have facilities, teachers, courses or student achievement superior to what's available in the Little Rock School District. But they do offer parents the reassuring presence of "people like us." This phrase is now more about class than skin color. But it's no less evidence of a systemic bias against have-nots.

In context, repeal of a piece of forgotten 1957 claptrap tells us a lot about the establishment's preference for the empty gesture over the hard work of systemic change.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Circuit court charge filed against Ten Commandments monument destroyer

    The Pulaski County prosecuting attorney's office filed a direct charge in circuit court today against Michael Tate Reed, who's been held in the county jail since he was arrested June 28 after driving over and demolishing the day-old Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Whatever secret bill Senate considers, winners and losers are the same

    The U.S. Senate seems likely to vote Tuesday on a secret health bill. Whatever version is rolled out — and if Sen. John McCain's doctor approves a fly-in so he may vote — the outcome is the same. Bad for working poor and previously sick; good for rich people.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Two shot in home on W. 19th

    KARK reports that a 19-year-old woman and 20-year-old man were found with gunshot wounds when police responded to a house in the 4200 block of W. 19th.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

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

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • IBS, were you there in Benghazi to personally witness all of Hillary's blunders like you…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • If God felt it necessary to replace the ten commandments, he could do it like…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Football for UA Little Rock

    • He's BSC. Students and tuition-paying parents should be VERY vocal that a football program won't…

    • on July 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation