2-Day Civil Rights in Little Rock

Day 1 You'll See:

Day 2 You’ll See:

 

Little Rock, Arkansas, is a pivotal place in the history of civil rights and Adventure Student Travel is excited to present your group with this unique, history and information packed 2-day journey through the most important sites and buildings! From the Clinton Presidential Library to the many churches and schools of Little Rock that have played an important role in desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement, this trip is the perfect mix of fun and history, keeping every member of your group busy and happy every step of the way!

 

Day
1

Daisy Bates House - Miss Daisy Bates was a highly renowned civil rights advocate in her lifetime (1914-1999), and she famously created a haven for the nine African American students who desegregated Central High School that your group can now explore! The house itself is known as the "de facto command post" for the desegregation crisis, and was the official pick up/drop off site for the students, as well as meeting spot for members of the press. Not only was this site a hopeful safe haven, it was also a target of much violence, such as cross burnings and regular rock throwings. The home has an exterior brick veneer and wooden frame, a very typical 1950s ranch style house. Take in the garden outside beautifully yet simply decorated with a memorial plaque to Daisy and the students. A tour inside will give you more information about Daisy and her husband, their personal life, and their public advocacy for civil rights that helped spark the movement much larger than themselves. This is one sobering and triumphant stop that your group will enjoy taking in while in Little Rock, an essential site in American history.

Central High School National Historic Site - In 1927 a 150,000 square foot high school was built in Little Rock with over 36 million pounds of concrete and 370 tons of steel. This 2 block behemoth was quickly voted America’s most beautiful high school, featuring a winning combination of art deco architecture and collegiate Gothic style. Its fame quickly turned into infamy, being one of the most public cases of desegregation in our nation’s history during the Civil Rights Movement. During the 1957 desegregation crisis nine African Americans’ persistence in attending this once all-white school made a national example and wave in American culture that we can still feel today. Through its forceful implementation, the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education court decision for desegregation and equality within schools made this particular school truly a nationwide example for others to follow, allowing widespread change for the better. The visitor center across the street is a great resource for historical information, itself striving to "preserve, protect, and interpret for future generations its role in integration of schools and the Civil Rights Movement in general." Central High School is an essential educational stop in Little Rock that your group will enjoy exploring the history of!

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center - The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is a museum of African American history that was created in 2001. This museum honors the story of Mosaic Templars of America and of local African American history. The Templars was a black fraternity organization founded in 1883 in its famous location on 9th and Broadway in downtown Little Rock. The complex features exhibits, classrooms, offices, and an auditorium that all hold information from 1870 to the present to inform and educate on African American achievements especially related to business, politics, and the arts. Take a self guided tour or larger guided tour of the first and third floors of the museum, teaching you about the fraternities, entrepreneurs, and people of the Arkansas integration overall. Focusing on outreach and education, this stop on your trip is the perfect place to get important culture and history information, as you explore exhibits such as Brotherhood and the Bottom Line, Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, and A City Within a City. After learning all you can head over to the museum store to pick up your very own Coretta Scott King children book or locally made African American handmade jewelry!

Butler Center for Arkansas Studies - The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies was created in 1997 thanks to a generous endowment from Mr. Butler, Sr. in order to help promote a greater understanding and appreciation of Arkansas history, literature, and culture. This complex works in close detail with the Department of Central Arkansas Library System and together they hold quite an impressive research collection and genealogy record. The complexes host art exhibits, operate local artists within galleries, host annual library festivals, and operate River Market’s Books and Gifts, as well as Bookends Cafe. Within these systems your group will discover panels, sessions, events, workshops, performances, and various book signings, all backed by state information and the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, covering everything from desegregation to popular musical influences within the state. Be sure to check out the Arkansas Sounds exhibit, featuring music and musicians from Arkansas’ music culture. You may even stumble upon a concert while here!

Taborian Hall Museum - Taborian Hall Museum, also more commonly known as the Dreamland Ballroom, is the last remaining original building on 9th street in downtown Little Rock that served as a center for black business and culture, built in 1918. The whole complex was originally a temple, a classical structure built for black institutional organizations such as the Negro Soldiers Club during WWII. This club hosted a grill, beer garden, pharmacy, basketball games, and dance hall!  Located on the 3rd floor, the Dreamland Ballroom hosted several legendary musician of the 1930s such as Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, BB King, Nat Cole King, and Ella Fitzgerald. This ballroom is one of the very few original ones left in the nation, and the history of it is quite essential to that of Little Rock, black culture, and Arkansas history. The first floor of this complex contains the old factory showroom from the Arkansas Flag and Banner building, a very patriotic part of a building with a proud heritage that your group will have a fun time exploring!

Little Rock Nine Civil Rights Memorial - Your group's last stop on day one of Little Rock adventure is here, at the Little Rock Nine Civil Rights Memorial, otherwise known as the Testaments sculpture. This Civil Rights sculpture honors the Little Rock Nine who so courageously became the first black students to enter the all-white high school, Central High School. This integration movement, as well as sculpture in general, shows the struggle of this area, and many areas like it during the civil rights movement. It is a symbol of courage and equality and is the first actual civil rights monument located on any state capitol grounds in the south. A walk around the north lawn of the Arkansas State Capitol will show your group this sculpture as well plenty of additional information on the history of the state inside the building. The sculptors included Deering, Scallion, and Deering Studio, with generous funding from the Little Rock Nine Foundation. Walk around the life size sculptures and read the personal and widely famous quotes strewn about on plaques, such as Gloria Ray Karknark’s “dare to object to prejudice and injustice."

Day
2

Philander Smith College and Arkansas Baptist College - Start day two of your group's history packed travel adventure through Little Rock at Philander Smith College, a private, co-ed, 4-year liberal arts college. Philander is affiliated with United Methodist Church and a founding member of the United Negro College Fund. The college strives to "graduate academically accomplished students grounded as advocates for social justice" and is located downtown. After you’ve toured this historically African American, green and gold clad education facility head over to the purple and white proud Arkansas Baptist College buffaloes home. Also known as ABC, this college was founded by both black and white religious leaders in 1884, though it is a historically black private liberal arts school. Originally known as the Minister’s Institute, this college consists of a small, cohesive, student environment with an open enrollment works to positively influence through the integration of scholastics and Christian principles the students of Little Rock. Both colleges serve as current state of the art educational facilities, as well as important historic and cultural sites in the African American community.

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church - Created in 1863, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church contains history that epitomizes African Methodism in Arkansas, a history very much intertwined through the cultivation of Little Rock and its people. Led by Nathan Warren, a small group of of African Americans established an informal church on 9th and Broadway in downtown Little Rock. In 1866 Shorter College was created here, and in the 150 years since there have been 5 additional houses of worship created. Four annual conferences, 14 presiding elders, over 300 pastors, 200 churches, and over 40,000 members nationwide have made this establishment what it is today. Currently located in the historic Quapaw Quarter, the gorgeous sanctuary is surrounded by unique stained glass windows depicting stories and themes from the Bible that are one of a kind pieces of artwork. Your group will have the chance to explore and tour this church and its grounds, learning about the important people contributing and coming out of this establishment, such as Daisy Bates, members of the Little Rock Nine, and various pastors, lawyers, and activists.

Dunbar Middle School - Dunbar Middle School, your next educational stop, is Little Rock’s only learning and research center designed for high ability learners. Created in 1929, this Nationally Registered Historic Place was formerly known as the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African American poet to gain national acclaim, an extremely bright young man who died at an early and untimely age of 33, though not before publishing several books, poems, and short stories. The school focuses on high achievement, global awareness, and social responsibility. Inside these walls students can take part in Dunbar’s gifted and talented program, as well as international studies program, both raising the bar academically for this community. A tour of this school will show your group the importance of going above and beyond academically and socially, as well as teach you more important local history!

Sue Cowan Williams Library - Built in 1997, this downtown Little Rock historical library is home to a wide selection of books and audio-visual items essential to the area. Named after Sue Cowan Williams, a school teacher who, in 1942, won a lawsuit seeking equal pay for both white and black teachers. Williams began her career at Dunbar High School, and after winning her Morris vs. Williams case she went on to teach at Arkansas AM&N College, as well as Arkansas Baptist College and Philander. Upon creation of this library the building itself was the most expensive building in central Arkansas, quickly becoming an important community center. Featuring over 8,500 square feet, this library offers computers, wireless internet, and public meeting spaces. The Sue Cowan Williams Library also takes pride in its children and teen outreach and educational programs, emphasizing the importance in teaching our youth the greatest values in scholastics, equality, and a wide understanding of the world, as your group will see first hand!

Hearne Fine Art -  In 1988 Archie and Garbo Hearne established the Hearne Fine Art building, an establishment that strives to carry out a mission rooted in education. The Hearne is a community grown and supported business that provides a dynamic conduit for preservation and promotion of African American Art. From quite humble beginnings, through a magnificent overcoming of market stagnation, and with numerous adversities, this art center has come to establish itself as a pillar within the artistic community of Little Rock, as well as the art world at large. While here your group have the exciting chance to explore several popular exhibits such as the most popular current one called Beautiful Influences, an homage to strong women and even more strong emotions. You will also see the Evolution exhibit, as well as Whisper to Conversation to Shout, all in some way related to and based off of the courageous African American community around this area. A stroll around the entire establishment will show your group several different mediums, such as sculpture, painting, drawing, assemblage, photography, folk art, prints, fiber, and 3D mixed media. These different types of artwork combined with the different types of personalities and histories behind the artists make for a truly amazing artistic experience, one that goes beyond the visual and into the heart and mind of the thousands of visitors that have made a journey to this art center.

Clinton Presidential Library - Any Clinton fans or politics buffs in your group are going to go crazy for this next stop at the Clinton Presidential Library, a veritable political paradise! The library is part of the Presidential Center and Park and sits on the banks of the Arkansas River, on 29 acres of beautifully maintained grounds with walking trails. The American presidency is part of a unique heritage and your group has the opportunity to explore the various archives, museums, and special programs that preserve that documents and artifacts of our president and provide insight into times in which the presidents lived and served the nation. In particular, your group will see information about the Clinton campaign, his inauguration and special policy, as well as exhibits on his first lady Hillary and vice president Al Gore. Over 100,000 gifts given to Clinton during his presidency are kept here, as well as replicas of the oval office and cabinet room, documents, photos, videos, interactive stations to further your immersive experience. Make sure you stop by the museum store to pick up your very own Clinton approved souvenirs or head over to the on site restaurant, Forty Two, for some delicious Clinton favorites.

Historic Arkansas Museum -  The Historic Arkansas Museum is a facility covering Arkansas frontier history and modern history, giving your group some basic Arkansas state and geography information not found anywhere else. The museum is located on historic grounds, as you will see once you step foot on the grass and visit the antebellum neighborhood it is located in. From here your group can see the oldest home still standing in Little Rock, as well as the site where the famous William Woodruff once printed the Arkansas Gazette. While here your group will have the chance to interact with living history characters around every corner and see first hand how early residents of Arkansas lived as they explore Arkansas made art and artifacts. There are four exhibit galleries within the museum, featuring everything from contemporary Arkansas art in the stunning Trinity Gallery to the very popular Bowie Knife history exhibit within the permanent display exhibit. You can even head over to the museum store to pick up your very own heritage quilt and contemporary crafts!

Haven of Rest Cemetery - Though it may look like just another small town cemetery, Haven of Rest Cemetery is the largest African American cemetery in Arkansas, with over 10,000 burials on site. This historic black cemetery was created in the early 1900s and is located in the University Park Neighborhood of Pulaski County. As your group may notice while here, this resting place is in need of critical restoration and improvements that are currently underway, projects including new fencing, road resurfacing, and drainage projects. All of these things are needed to restore this final resting place of a few national heroes a place of importance and dignity as it should be. Within this cemetery you will find the grave sites of Daisy Bates of the Little Rock Nine, Scipio Jones, and Joseph Booker, the first president of Arkansas Baptist College. Take a somber walk around with your group as you take in this essential part of the city’s historic background!

St. Mark Baptist Church and First Missionary Baptist Church - St. Mark Baptist Church was created in 1892, with four members, including and led by Reverend Tatum, meeting in a nameless storehouse in downtown Little Rock. The members took part in congregational singing, scripture reading, preaching, and offering, known still to this day for their excellence in worship. Today there are 9,000 members, 6 weekly services, an extensive community outreach, as well as a TV broadcast ministry. Your group will see inside the remodeled contemporary and traditional interior mix as well as some in session small group lessons, food programs for the homeless, or maybe youth tutoring. The next stop will show you how that church compares to the oldest black church in the state, First Missionary Baptist Church. Led by Rev Wilson Brown, a self taught slave minister, in 1845, this church met on a brush arbor until 1882 when a permanent structure was built on 7th and Gaines. This church quickly became a social and political center, as well as important site of worship and civil rights movement center. In 1963, MLK, Jr. spoke here, the podium and Bible still on display, and in 1990 Clinton spoke here for the 145th anniversary, the first speech in his presidential election. Your group will learn a lot about civil rights history, African American culture in Little Rock, and Arkansas history in general at these two stops!

Old State House Museum - Welcome to the Old State House Museum, the original state capitol of Arkansas and the oldest surviving capitol site West of the Mississippi River. This structure was constructed in a Greek Revival Style in 1833, the grounds since then seeing some of the most important events in Arkansas history. Probably the most well known events recently were the 1992 and 1996 election night celebrations for Bill Clinton. Historically speaking, however, this location as seen the admission into the Union in 1836, a fatal Bowie knife fight between state legislators in 1837, the vote to secede from the United States in 1861, and important pioneering medical research in hookworm and malaria. Within the actual museum you will find a somewhat shockingly large collection of artifacts surrounding Arkansas’ role in film and early Hollywood. Explore the exhibits covering the most famous actors/actresses from the area such as Joey Lauren Adams and the movies that have used this state’s gorgeous backdrop, such as Gone with the Wind. You will also see exhibits on famous producers and musicians from the area. Pick up any of these popular pop culture  film and music souvenirs or Arkansas artifacts at the gift shop before you go!

Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail - Your last stop will bring together nicely the entire educational trip around Little Rock, the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail. This historic trail and walking path stretches from the Old State House to the Statehouse Convention Center along Markham Street. The trail was created in 2011 to acknowledge the sacrifices and achievements made by those who have fought for justice within the state. The trail also serves to raise awareness for Arkansas citizens and tourists alike about the rich and important Civil Rights legacy in Little Rock that historians often overlook. A walk on this several block long trail will show your group several sidewalk markers that represent and immortalize important civil rights activists. there are about 10-12 names added annually, the first names including the Little Rock Nine and Daisy Bates. There is a new annual voting every fall season to add more important activist to the trail, making this one fun, exciting, and educational historic stop in Little Rock!