A Great Teacher

Not too long out of graduate school, I met Jaime Rollans on a grant project that explored race, AP courses, etc,. Jaime is a noted scholar, nationally recognized authority with the College Board, and one who engaged others in her work and publications on matters related to art history and historical thinking skills. I can recall our dinners, the conferences we traveled to, and how we split bottles of wine when dining out. She offered me jobs for which I regret not taking. She is what I want to be: a scholar, a pronounced history teacher, and an amazing human being. I am so far from her; I have yet to meet a teacher like her. Yes — I want to be her. After learning that she elected to retire — I have felt a great sense of joy, but real sadness. Though we worked on projects and sat on panels in my early days, I cannot help but wonder what it would have meant for me to work in her department. To learn from her. At one point we talked about an all star history department. Wow!!! I love you Jaime and talk about you a great deal. I want to be you. I am trying. Thanks for being the only academic mentor I ever had. 25 year-old me seated by Jaime (3rd from left) on a panel in L.A. You are an amazing historian, teacher, mentor, and friend.

History Institute I, 2013

I just completed another excellent history institute at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. Those who attended my week-long session were great in contributing to the objectives I laid out for us. I really enjoyed it. I will say the day came feel long as we started our first session at 8:00 and did not complete our day until 4:45. I did very little this past week outside of the conference. I was tired — I must say. The highlight was attending the faculty dinner with so many of my friends whom I only see at these conferences.

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The director at the institute treated us to a wonderful Wednesday dinner at the popular Little Rock restaurant, Brave New.

Gay Adoption and Arkansas

During the month of November 2008, the people of Arkansas voted for the passage of Arkansas Law Act 1, which prohibits any unmarried individuals or couples from adopting children. In part, many contend that this law passed as an attempt to keep homosexuals from adopting children. Critics of this law state that it is a political ploy at the expense of Arkansas children waiting to be adopted. This law also includes foster children. Any individuals  living in cohabitation outside of a valid marriage are not permitted by law to adopt or serve as foster parents. The argument is that children function best in a “traditional” family environment between a man and a woman. Academics do not dispute this; however, they do contend there is a violation of the 9th amendment. Moreover, some sociologists have stated that the evidence of a “family” unit between a man and a women is not supported. Thus, this matter becomes one of  religious faith and belief — making it a 1st amendment issue, too.

As noted in other landmark cases such as Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade, the court stated that both venues were in fact legal as thus they address matters of privacy. The matter of privacy is a significant one. There was a point in which states declared by law that one had to be of a certain age to purchase contraceptives such as a condom or diaphragm. This is no longer the case with the rise of AIDS.

After being challenged by the ACLU, a judge has ruled against this law in Arkansas; many state it is a law clearly driven by ideological and political motives, thus serves no purpose for the welfare of children. But, those that collected enough signatures to have this law placed on the ballot via initiative, contend that research backs their basic contention of family stability. Conversely, opponents of this act noted that it is not about family stability; it is anti-gay. Hence, research does not support same-sex couples having an adverse impact on children. Furthermore, as some have stated, Act 1 is in opposition to matters of abortion, as stated by some in the state of Arkansas. On one hand, 57% of the population ruled in favor of Arkansas Law Act 1. On the other hand, many within that same population argue that women should not seek an abortion, but simply but their child up for adoption.

The Trek

Our trek through the Ozark National Forest was good; the route was okay — though not the most scenic one; it was also  pretty tough task. the best part about the trip was the bear. We woke up at 1:00 AM to a bear in our camp looking for food; it made its way around the tent a few times before leaving. After the hike, we went down to Hot Springs to stay in the Arlington Hotel. Here are a few pictures:

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Above: Janette packing up camp

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Above: Because of the drought, water sources were scarce. Thus, I packed some and used my filter anytime a water source appeared. You would not believe the places I pumped water from; I thought it tasted better than Houston’s water.

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Above: My pack was heavier than I wanted; however, I knew water and other factors would be an issue — so I was more than ready.

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Above: I am thinking about that bear… not really! Nights were cooler than I had anticipated.

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Above: Yes, we took Abbey. She had a tough time with the heat. She was good, though.

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Above: This bad boy MSR can take anything. Nothing better than dried food mixed with hot water. I think I am about to prepare a spaghetti dish.

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Spring Break: Running, Politics, and Little Rock Day 1

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The Little Rock half-Marathon is how I am kicking off my spring break; I will be very busy finishing a paper and preparing for a seminar upon my return next week to Houston. And, I still need to complete a project I hope to present to my department chair regarding our curriculum; however, for now, I am looking to have a great race and set a new half-marathon PR; I ran the LR Marathon six years ago but must say it has grown a great deal since. Assuming I can make it work with my teaching schedule next month, I plan to run the Country Music Marathon in Nashville next month.

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Above: 1/2 Marathon Route

Starting my spring break off by running in my favorite city is a joy; after graduate school I accepted a teaching appointment here at a k-12 private day school. During my four years at Little Rock’s CAC, I taught a number of courses in the history department while serving as head coach for both the men’s and women’s tennis and cross country teams. It was not unusual for me to go on a training run in the AM with my best runners, while conducting my own runs in the afternoon; I would often log some 70 – 90 miles per week. But, such training came at a number of costs; it was normal for me to limp around injured and upset by my lack of discipline. In 2005, I even put on 50 lbs due to burnout and injury. Those days are clearly behind me as I predict a number of great runs over the course of six months; I even think I have a chance to qualify for Boston. Of course talk is cheap. I do miss my days here in LR; I love Arkansas and long to visit when I can.

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One cannot visit Little Rock without visiting its River Market; it is here that houses a number of great bars, restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and both the Bill Clinton Museum and Presidential Library. Before picking up my race pack, I toured the museum taking note of the great stuff to purchase. I even ran into Bill Clinton as noted by the picture I took with him.

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Above: Carson and Bill talking about Monica Lewinsky

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Above: Carson on Clinton Avenue in downtown Little Rock

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Above: Runners visit various vendors during pre-race activities in the Convention Center

MLK Changed Hearts

I am sure many of you are familiar with this famous photograph above; it accounts for the emotional hate and southern rage held by many in the south during the 1950s — a decade in which the process of school integration was underway after the Brown v Board of Education case.

This is another iconic image of the 50’s segregation period. Elizabeth Eckford is one of the African American students known as the Little Rock Nine. On September 4, 1957, she and eight other African American students attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School, which had previously only accepted white students. They were stopped at the door by Arkansas National Guard troops called up by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. They tried again without success to attend Central High on September 23, 1957. The next day, September 24, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to accompany the Little Rock Nine to school for protection.

The thing is… she is not the subject of the photograph. Will Counts, the photographer shot Hazel Massery, the white girl shouting in front of the man. 40 years later she apologized to Elisabeth.

I got a chance to hear Massery speak about this picture and her hate; she stated that she is most ashamed of her past and that she works everyday to bring about racial and social change. This is most evident in how she has brought up her kids. She encourages interracial relationships and thinks that we are finally moving in the right direction.