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Posts Tagged ‘Clinton Presidential Library

Bill Clinton Honors Arkansas’ Little Rock Nine, 1957 Civil Rights Icons

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock Nine hold a special place in Bill Clinton’s heart.

He returned here on Saturday to honor the nine African-American students who in 1957 were prevented from attending the racially segregated Little Rock Central High School by the Gov. Orval Faubus and angry mobs that threatened lynching.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10730, which sent units of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock and federalized the Arkansas National Guard to escort the students into the school.

The protests continued, but the Little Rock Nine were eventually admitted to Central High. They still faced verbal and physical abuse, and the incident clouded the national perception of Arkansas for decades. And it became one of the most important events in the civil rights movement.

Clinton celebrated the unveiling of a new permanent exhibit, which features the Little Rock Nine Congressional Gold Medal, at his presidential library. In 1999, then-President Clinton bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal, the country’s highest civilian honor, to the Little Rock Nine at a White House ceremony.

After a video with crisp footage of Eisenhower’s famous 1957 address to the nation about the Central High crisis, Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the Little Rock Nine and president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation, introduced Clinton, sporting a gray three-piece suit and a Navy blue tie.

At times, Clinton sounded troubled about the direction of the country, and his speech seemed more political than commemorative.

He talked about the controversial ending of a busing plan by tea party board members in a North Carolina school district that had allowed diverse students to attend school together. He mentioned the campaign to repeal health care reform and what he characterized as backward steps on energy and education. And Clinton harshly criticized the growing conservative agenda, saying the country was “infected with a virus” that believes any federal power is “quashing democracy.”

He said that Eisenhower was a genuine conservative Republican for his time, but that didn’t stop him from using federal power to gain equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of race. “Conservative means something very different today than it did in 1957,” Clinton said.

Clinton was 11 years old when the Central High crisis unfolded. He said that he watched Eisenhower on television but could not tell if he was a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. He never forgot the message or the historical moment.

In 1977, when he was the state’s attorney general, Clinton attended an event at Central High School with members of the Little Rock Nine and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Clinton recalled that Jackson, a liberal activist, gave an unlikely speech.

“He gave what would be a right-wing conservative speech today,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s point: Jackson spoke about his position on family values without politics entering the dialogue. That no longer happens, he said. But it should.

“We need voices of America to remember the mission we were given,” he said. “Listen to President Eisenhower . . . let’s try to give it [a more perfect union] to more people in the 21st century.”


Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:58 am

Chelsea Clinton’s Dream Wedding (in Bill Clinton’s Little Rock?)

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It would be the Arkansas equivalent of a royal wedding.

That is, if Bill and Hillary Clinton hosted Chelsea’s upcoming nuptials in her home state of Arkansas rather than in New York.

Chelsea, 30, plans to marry Marc Mezvinksy, 31, this summer. Hillary says the wedding is the most important matter consuming her. Bill says he is close to losing the 15 pounds that Chelsea requested of him. Wedding plans are top-secret with only a few tips leaking out.

My Woman Up colleague Annie Groer recently reported that the nuptials will occur on July 31 at Astor Courts, a 1902 Beaux-Arts masterpiece overlooking the Hudson River.

Clinton presidential libraryBut what if Chelsea wanted to have her wedding in Little Rock?

Chelsea only spent 11 years in Arkansas and left in 1992 when the Clintons moved from the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock to the White House in Washington DC. When her mother ran for US Senate after her father’s 2nd term ended it was from New York. But Arkansas still goes giddy for the beloved political family. Little Rock – home base for Friends of Bill (aka FOBs) – would be consumed by a Chelsea wedding.

When the Clinton Presidential Center opened in 2004, a week-long series of festivities occurred including a concert by Aretha Franklin. A Chelsea wedding would surely see “Chelsea and Marc” tea cups in the Clinton Museum Store, a stone’s throw from the presidential library, a gigantic banner congratulating the couple hanging on the side of the Clinton library and bars featuring Chelsea drink specials. A Chelsea Julep, anyone?

Arkansas is no stranger to extravagant, over-the-top weddings.

The state-wide daily newspaper dedicates a two-page spread every Sunday featuring the most opulent and expensive weddings. Little Rock, a city with a surprising amount of wealth, has two glossy society magazines that showcase glitzy parties and high-profile charity events.

Chelsea’s beau is Jewish, making a church wedding unlikely. But Hillary’s former church, First United Methodist, a Gothic church with deep historical roots, would make a beautiful setting at sunset with its stunning stained glass windows facing west.

When the Clintons lived in Little Rock, Bill attended Immanuel Baptist Church, which at the time was located in the heart of downtown. Today, the church, an enormous brick fortress that people jokingly call “Six Flags Over Jesus,” sits on a hill next door to a Kroger in suburban Little Rock. Certainly, not a picturesque site.

Fortunately for the former First Family of Arkansas, they have access to the perfect interfaith nuptial spot: The Clinton Presidential Library. The archive of his 8 years in the nation’s White House has sleek, modern architecture designed by James Polshek overlooking the Arkansas River. The Secret Service knows how to secure the library, which sits on a 16-acre city park. Its Great Hall that seats 300 people offers a striking view of the city’s skyline.

The library complex also houses Bill’s rooftop penthouse suite. Filled with original art from around the world, the penthouse features a landscaped outdoor terrace – the ultimate site for a late evening rehearsal dinner with fireworks exploding over the river in celebration of the couple.

To escape the hullabaloo of downtown, Chelsea could have the ceremony or a pre-wedding luncheon at a palatial home owned by one of the original FOBs.

Longtime FOB Kaki Hockersmith, who designed the White House living quarters for Bill and Hillary and worked on the interiors of Camp David and the Clinton Library, owns an Italian villa-style home on ritzy Edgehill.

Hockersmith and her husband, Max Mehlburger, have hosted many fundraisers for Bill, Hillary and other high-status national Democrats. Hockersmith was recently appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for The Kennedy Center.

Another likely locale is the multi-million dollar home Mike and Beth Coulson, wealthy Democratic donors. Mike Coulson is CEO of Coulson Oil Co. Beth Coulson, a philanthropist and former judge, was caught up in the Clinton scandals of the 1990s and is rumored to be Jane Doe #2 in the Paula Jones lawsuit against Bill Clinton.

A Southern wedding regardless of location must have plenty of flowers, food and music.

Roses and orchids are always the most popular among posh Arkansas brides but the native Purple Cone Flower adds a touch of the Natural State to arrangements.

FOB Billie Rutherford owns a popular catering business and is the go-to caterer for any Clinton function. Her husband, Skip, serves the dean of the Clinton School of Public Service and supervised the building of the presidential library.

The menu needs a mix of healthy foods – maybe cool cucumber soup shooters and sliced Arkansas pink tomatoes – and regional cholesterol-heavy cuisine such as fried catfish bites and okra. Bill would find time to sneak steak at his long-time hang-out, Doe’s Eat Place or pizza at Vino’s Brewpub, which he visited in November.

Award-winning Diamond Bear Brewery, which already boasts a Presidential IPA, would undoubtedly concoct a new beer in honor of Chelsea. Maybe a First Daughter Ale?

Plenty of solid local bands inhabit Little Rock and some of their members attended grade school with Chelsea. But if she preferred global rock and roll, Bono and The Edge from U2 would fly in to perform. They performed at the opening of the presidential library. Maybe Mick Jagger would bring in the Rolling Stones. He and Bill recently shared a box at the World Cup in South Africa.

Another music possibility: Bill could tap actor Morgan Freeman, who lives three hours from Little Rock near Clarksdale, Miss., to invite some veteran blues masters to play sax with him at the reception.
There’s only one downside to a Little Rock wedding — gossip. Little Rock is a small city that thrives on media attention. But if Clintonites sent the signal for lips to be sealed, any wedding scoop would be locked down tighter than a presidential visit to Iraq.

Hopefully, for Little Rock, Chelsea hasn’t sealed the deal on New York. If the bride-to-be wants to feel extra special on her wedding day, it’s the city where she was born that would wrap their arms around her.