Today we’ll excerpt a 1999 Interchange episode in which host Shana Ritter interviews Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, and Hazel Bryan Massery, the white student made infamous in photographs which capture her hatefully screaming at Eckford. The two are joined by the man who took those photos, Will Counts.
Captured in Count’s photo, which is one of the Associated Press’s 100 top news photos of the century, a frightened Eckford is followed by a crowd of segregationists. Massery is right behind her, face twisted in anger. Eckford and Massery were in Bloomington on October 25th, 1999, “as part an effort to educate young people about the pain of racial strife and the promise of racial healing.” (“Photos Capture More Than a Moment” by Steve Hinnefeld)
2017 was the 60th anniversary of that moment. It’s certainly debatable if the country has changed at all when White Supremacists continue marching in our streets and we are witnesses to the hate-filled among us drive into peaceful public demonstrations attempting, and succeeding, to kill those gathered there.
Our opening song is The “Original Faubus Fables,” by Charles Mingus, a direct response to this landmark crisis of Civil Rights. The nine students selected to integrate Little Rock Central High School were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, then Governor of Arkansas.
Mingus and drummer Dannie Richmond sing:
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em shoot us!
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em stab us! Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em tar and feather us!
Oh, Lord, no more swastikas!
Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!
Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie.
Why is he so sick and ridiculous?
He won’t permit integrated schools.
Then he’s a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!
Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)
Mingus will accompany us throughout–we’ll select from his 1963 album The Black Saint and Sinner Lady which has been called “one of the greatest achievements in orchestration by any composer in jazz history.” (Steve Huey, AllMusic) This album “seems to state that the black man is not alone but all mankind must unite in revolution against any society that restricts freedom and human rights.” (Liner Notes)
We take part of the program’s title from the 1958 poem “Little Rock” by Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén, which reads in part:
The blues weep their musical tears
In the fine morning.
The White South shakes
Its whip and lashes out. Flanked by pedagogical rifles
The black children walk
To their school of terror….
In that Faubus world,
Under that adamant Faubus sky…
(Trs by Teresa Labarta De Chaves)
The Little Rock Nine: How Far Has the Country Come?
Will Counts: Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame
Unfounded America: Taking Out the Myth with the Trash
We, the Shackled: Democracy in Chains
The Wages of Whiteness: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Color Line
by Charles Mingus
“Original Faubus Fables” (Mingus presents Mingus)
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Track C: “(Soul Fusion) Freewoman and Oh, This Freedom’s Slave Cries”
Mode D: “Stop! Look! And Sing Songs of Revolutions!”
Mode E: “Saint and Sinner Join in Merriment on Battle Front”
Mode F: “Of Love, Pain, and Passioned Revolt, then Farewell, My Beloved, ’til It’s Freedom Day”
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Selection Host: Shana Ritter
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Executive Producer: Wes Martin