Cotton, Leahy, Lewis, and Hill Introduce Legislation to Expand Border of Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Cotton Contact: Caroline Rabbitt (202) 224-2353
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) along with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Congressmen French Hill (R-Arkansas) and John Lewis (D-Georgia) today introduced legislation that would expand the boundaries of the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. This expansion would mean seven homes located near Little Rock Central High School would be included in the school's national historic site designation and preserved by the National Park Service (NPS).
"To be able to see exactly how it looked when the Little Rock Nine walked their way into Central High-and into history-will do a lot of good for our country. It will help keep this park as a living monument to the courage of the civil-rights movement. It will allow future generations to come here and begin to understand what it took to achieve equal opportunity. And it will remind all of us that we must continually stand guard against hatred and intolerance. During this 60th anniversary year of the Little Rock Nine, I'm proud to introduce this legislation and give this historic site the recognition it deserves," said Cotton.
"Our history is part of every American's heritage. We have an obligation to ourselves and to future generations to preserve historic buildings and spaces that help us see, touch, remember and learn from our history, to know where we have come from, where we are now, and to inform our future. I commend Senator Cotton for bringing the Senate together in honoring this Fall's 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine. This is an opportunity for the Congress to continue to support the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and recommit ourselves to providing the necessary federal resources to maintain and operate our national park sites across the nation," said Leahy.
"Little Rock Central High School was ground zero for the Civil Rights Movement in the State of Arkansas. Expanding the boundary of the National Historic Site at Central High ensures that the entire story of the Little Rock Nine and their brave role in the fight for equality of all children will be preserved for generations to come. I appreciate the leadership of Senator Cotton, who worked on this legislation in the Senate with Senator Leahy, and I am even more appreciative of the lifetime of leadership on the issue of Civil Rights of Congressman John Lewis," said Hill.
"When I was a high school student, I looked up to the Little Rock Nine. They are a part of American history that needs to be fully interpreted and understood. It takes a lot of planning, organizing, and support for young teenagers to consistently and persistently challenge the way of life of a city, a region and a country. These buildings are a part of the legacy of the Little Rock Nine, and they should also be preserved," said Lewis.
Background: During the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School images of the students, protestors, and law enforcement officers were widely seen across the country. In the backdrop of many of those photos were seven homes located on Park Road near the school. It was in these homes that the Little Rock Nine gathered to wait for their walk to school to begin each day. These homes are an important part of the history of Little Rock Central High School and the Little Rock nine. The U.S. Department of Interior recommended in its 2001 General Management Plan and 2004 Long-Range Interpretive Plan that the homes be included in the NPS boundary, but the boundary was never changed. This legislation would be a simple boundary adjustment that would encourage home owners and the NPS to work together to preserve the exterior facades of these homes. No change of ownership would occur.
Letters supporting the boundary change from the homes' current owners have been submitted to the Congressional Record and can be found here.