The Little Rock Nine, the Lost Year and today's LEARNS Act in Arkansas : Code Switch Classrooms in Arkansas were at the center of school desegregation in the 1950s. Now, with the LEARNS Act, they're in the spotlight again. Code Switch comes to you live from Little Rock, Arkansas this week to unpack the latest education bill and how it echoes themes from decades past.

What Arkansas' LEARNS Act has to do with race

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LORI LIZARRAGA, HOST:

Just a heads-up - the show you're about to hear may contain some salty language.

(APPLAUSE)

LIZARRAGA: Hello, Arkansas.

GENE DEMBY, HOST:

What's good, Little Rock?

B A PARKER, HOST:

Hi.

(APPLAUSE)

PARKER: We are so excited to be here tonight.

DEMBY: Yes, we are.

LIZARRAGA: We really are. For those of y'all who don't know, I'm Lori Lizarraga.

PARKER: I'm B.A. Parker.

DEMBY: And I'm Gene Demby.

LIZARRAGA: And we are the hosts of CODE SWITCH, the show about race and identity from NPR.

DEMBY: Yes we are.

PARKER: All right. So - but what's happening in Arkansas does not always get a lot of national coverage.

DEMBY: But it's also clear that there's a lot more going on here than just what you see in the headlines.

PARKER: Sure.

DEMBY: I mean, we've been here for a couple of days.

PARKER: Yes.

DEMBY: We've fallen in love with the beauty of the place. It's gorgeous.

LIZARRAGA: The foliage.

DEMBY: All the foliage, all the hills - beautiful here. I had a bomb cheesesteak here. Like, what? Y'all have Philly cheesesteaks here? What's...

LIZARRAGA: But we haven't just been getting to know about Arkansas...

PARKER: (Laughter).

LIZARRAGA: ...From eating your local food and going to visit your local eatery establishments. However, that is what it seems like. We've also been talking to you...

PARKER: Yes.

LIZARRAGA: ...The folks who live here, grew up here, work here. I called up lots of local reporters. I'm sorry for how many of you have bothered in the last two months. We started reading recent policy - hundreds of pages of it. But the point is that we've been really trying hard to get a real pulse on what's been going on in Arkansas lately. And the one thing that I kept hearing about over and over again - like, more than anything else - was about education.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Yeah.

PARKER: Yeah.

LIZARRAGA: Y'all felt that.

PARKER: Ooh (laughter). All right. So specifically, you told us about the fights over integration and segregation and how they still affect the way public education works in this state. So today on the show, we're going to look at the past, present and future of education right here in Little Rock.

DEMBY: And we know that whenever people come to Little Rock, the thing they have to talk about is the Little Rock Nine and Central High School. Understandably, it was a giant inflection point - a turning point in American history. But one of the things we learned is that, you know, the struggle for fair, equitable education here is just as messy and complicated today as it was more than six decades ago.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Yep.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yep.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: You're right.

DEMBY: Oh - sounds like...

PARKER: Ooh.

DEMBY: ...We have a church up here.

PARKER: Oh.

DEMBY: OK. And another thing - sorry.

LIZARRAGA: Can I get an amen?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Amen.

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

DEMBY: OK. This is fun.

LIZARRAGA: Yeah.

PARKER: That warms my heart.

LIZARRAGA: Y'all are feeling us.

DEMBY: If podcasting don't work out, we can get past it.

LIZARRAGA: There it is. There it is. (Singing) Mmm.

PARKER: Ah, I should've brought my praise hat. But - exactly. So, Lori...

LIZARRAGA: Yeah.

PARKER: You've been deep diving on one particularly...

LIZARRAGA: Yes.

PARKER: ...Consequential new education policy in Arkansas that many people might feel inflames conflicts over race, class and how students...

LIZARRAGA: Oh.

PARKER: ...Learn about their histories. So, look - ooh (laughter).

DEMBY: It's almost like they know what's coming.

PARKER: So the amount of grumbling that happened just, like, in the preamble...

LIZARRAGA: I don't think they know what I'm about to talk about.

PARKER: All right. You don't know. You don't know. But Lori, break it down for us.

LIZARRAGA: I'm going to do my best. Y'all have had a big year. 2023 - lot going on in Arkansas. And let's start with the fact that, in her first 10 months on the job, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders got to work - issued not one, not two, but 28 executive orders. So, you know, she's been busy.

DEMBY: A little bit. A little bit.

LIZARRAGA: But the one that we're getting into tonight - the one I think that y'all are anticipating I'm going to talk about - is the Literacy, Empowerment, Accountability, Readiness, Networking and School Safety Act...

DEMBY: Jesus.

(BOOING)

DEMBY: Oh, okay.

LIZARRAGA: ...Which you probably know more familiarly - and affectionately, it seems...

(LAUGHTER)

LIZARRAGA: ...As LEARNS.

PARKER: I mean, OK, LEARNS definitely rolls off the tongue easier than - what is it? - literacy, equity, inclusion, empowerment, accountability, affirmations, readiness, responsibility and networking and - like, all the thing.

LIZARRAGA: Right. So the name is unwieldy. That is obviously fair. But the acronym is nothing compared to the legislation itself. It's 145 pages. Y'all are laughing 'cause you know. It's 145 pages of reforms, mandates and many a ban that are all supposed to address what some legislators have called - and maybe some Arkansans have called - Arkansas's failing public school system.

So a quick aside, 'cause y'all are getting into it. You're getting involved. So I'm going to ask you a question. Clap if you went to a public school in Arkansas.

(APPLAUSE)

PARKER: All right. So no one - no one...

DEMBY: Nobody even went to school...

PARKER: ...Went to a public school in Arkansas.

DEMBY: ...Don't touch none of y'all personally.

LIZARRAGA: So this isn't going to land well on this audience. OK. And I've heard tell that, per capita, Arkansas has, like, one of the highest numbers of private schools in this state. So it's pretty surprising to see and hear how many of you have been a part of the public school system. So you'll actually - quite a few of you are going to really understand, then, firsthand, how much this act brings in terms of significant changes to the state's education system - certainly the education system that you went through or knew it as.

You know, there's a lot of them, so I'm not going to go through everything. But the top ones that come to mind are the teacher salary raises and higher literacy standards for elementary school students, bans on any instruction around gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual reproduction in classrooms until a certain age, and bans on any teaching that could, quote, "indoctrinate" students with ideologies, which is referring very vaguely to so-called critical race theory and banning just outright, as an AP course, African American studies.

So the bill passed. So, you know, don't get me wrong, there is support. But even for the teachers who will supposedly benefit from the changes in LEARNS, there has been profound pushback.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHER #1: Teachers are angry. We're heartbroken. We're insulted, and we feel betrayed.

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHER #2: Taking money away from an already suffering system is not going to help it. It's going to make it worse.

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHER #3: All public school teachers in our state, regardless of party affiliation, know that this bill is bad for us and, worse, bad for our kids. We are so certain of it that we are here to protest our own pay raises.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Yep.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Yes.

LIZARRAGA: So when Sarah Sanders first introduced this legislation back in February of 2023 - what is time? - she talked about it as progress - called it access to a quality education for every child, regardless of their race or income - an act of, you know, civil rights, including and especially at schools like her alma mater, Central High.

PARKER: Which is, you know, famous school of the Little Rock Nine...

LIZARRAGA: Y'all might have heard of it.

PARKER: ...Which - she seems to enjoy bringing it up.

DEMBY: She brings it up a lot.

LIZARRAGA: She does like to name-drop that. And I'll tell you, the current students of Central High, when this bill was introduced, did not like that reference and the callback to Central High at all. A few hundred of them, in fact, actually walked out of their classrooms in protest.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENTS: (Chanting) This is for the best. What about the rest? This is for the best. What about the rest?

(APPLAUSE)

PARKER: They are saying, this is for the best, and what about the rest?

LIZARRAGA: Yeah. And that's - it's heavy. It's a little bit, and it's doing a lot. And I think the phrase is referencing one of the most impactful areas of this legislation, which, at first, kind of appears to just be this boring, little financial clause buried 80-some pages into the bill introducing educational freedom accounts. That's for real - 82 pages in.

PARKER: All right. So OK, I'll bite. What is an educational freedom account?

LIZARRAGA: Essentially, it's a fancy way of saying school vouchers, right?

PARKER: Oh, OK.

LIZARRAGA: So the school vouchers that LEARNS introduces will let Arkansas students take almost all of the state money that would have gone to their local public school to pay for tuition at any approved private, religious or homeschool instead.

PARKER: Wait. OK. Ooh, OK. So if they're ushering students and funding out of public schools, how are they helping public schools?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: They're not.

LIZARRAGA: Oh, OK. So y'all were thinking that, too. That's interesting. That's interesting because that's the question that I was asking, too, Parker, and that apparently a lot of people have been asking and worrying about. And other critics are taking it even a step further, questioning if the act isn't just not funding public schools, but abandoning public schools and a very particular set of students who rely on the public school system. It's not going to come as a surprise, probably, that private schools, particularly in the South, tend to have an overrepresentation of white students. And actually, the best indicator that there's going to be a lot of white kids in private schools is the proportion of Black students in the local public schools.

DEMBY: So basically, with all that money being diverted, public school students are going to be attending schools with fewer resources.

LIZARRAGA: Right. LEARNS essentially cuts funding for public schools. Public schools are going to exist no matter what. It's actually a law in the state constitution that students have to have access to free and quality public education, which is, sadly, not the case in every state.

DEMBY: But we have a good sense of who LEARNS helps and who LEARNS hurts.

LIZARRAGA: Yeah. One local reporter described it as a welfare check for the wealthy.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: It is.

LIZARRAGA: I don't know how y'all feel about that, but...

(LAUGHTER)

DEMBY: A lot of disagreement.

PARKER: I heard it is several times.

LIZARRAGA: So in the state's first report tracking who is using vouchers, it's kind of hard to get disgruntled about this categorization of, you know, welfare check for the wealthy because, in the first tracking report that came out in September, it found that - surprise, surprise - 95% of the students receiving vouchers in 2023 so far did not attend public schools in 2022.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZARRAGA: And - wait - hold on. I'm not finished. Many of those families also had to pay a significant amount of out-of-pocket expense in addition to the voucher to cover their child's tuition.

PARKER: So these vouchers are going to families who are already shelling out money for private school tuition...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Yes.

PARKER: ...And the vouchers just make their tuition a little cheaper.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8: Yep, correct.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #9: Yeah, that's the case.

LIZARRAGA: I don't even need to be here. I mean, they...

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: We'll sit down there with y'all in a little bit.

LIZARRAGA: So - and actually, in response to vouchers, private-school tuition is already on the rise here and in other states where we've seen vouchers like this roll out. So because these places know full well that these families who have been affording private school can afford private school, they can afford the hike, especially with the help of vouchers. And that makes private school even less accessible than it was before it was not accessible.

DEMBY: And since these are private schools, they don't have to accept everybody who applies. They get to pick and choose who gets in.

LIZARRAGA: Yeah. And they don't have to explain why they're turning a student away either, if they decide to do so, Gene.

DEMBY: So...

LIZARRAGA: That's fun.

DEMBY: I mean, we're talking about - you know, I mean, Little Rock Nine. We're talking about segregation. There's real - no real way to keep this from exacerbating the segregation you already see in Arkansas schools - right? - with white kids in private schools...

LIZARRAGA: Yeah.

DEMBY: ...And Black kids in public schools.

LIZARRAGA: Yeah. Unfortunately, yeah. And to that exact point, Gene, Central High students actually wrote an open letter to the governor in response to LEARNS back in March. And I really think that they put it best. In part, the letter reads...

(Reading) LEARNS will usher in a new era of segregation in Arkansas where middle- and upper-class white families take resources from public schools to escape to private ones, leaving marginalized kids with crumbling facilities, an antiquated curriculum and teachers who are forced to prioritize their job security over the quality of their instruction.

PARKER: So seven decades after Little Rock schools first tried to integrate, we're having deja vu all over again, basically. So segregation is still here, but with a slightly different veneer.

LIZARRAGA: I mean, that's the fear.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: It's the reality.

PARKER: Oof (ph).

DEMBY: All right.

PARKER: All right. Whew. All right, well, how do you end? Well, thank you for explaining that - all of that to us, Lori.

LIZARRAGA: Of course. And, look, I come from a background of local news, so I really do love digging into stories like this, but especially when they are this important and when our kids are the ones who are on the line. So I'm really, really grateful for the chance to get to be here with y'all to talk about this and dig into this. This is just the beginning. And I think this is a big and scary part of the story, but it's just part of the story.

PARKER: Exactly. And our next guest has actually lived through something that was eerily similar to this, and hopefully she can give us some more context for what this has looked like in the past and how to move forward.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEMBY: You've been listening to CODE SWITCH Live in Little Rock, Ark. When we come back, we continue examining the past, present, and future of education in Arkansas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEMBY: Gene - CODE SWITCH. And this week, we are bringing you a special episode from our live show in Little Rock, Ark. It was a lot of fun. I was there with my co-hosts, B.A. Parker and Lori Lizarraga, and we spent the night chopping it up about, you know, the past, present and future of education in Arkansas. And I'm going to hand it over to Parker, who brought on our very special guest that evening.

PARKER: All right. We're going to bring out our next guest - someone who I think will feel like a breath of fresh air after what we just heard.

DEMBY: Yes. Let's get into it. Let's get into it.

PARKER: All right. She's a consultant. She's an educator. She's a philanthropist. She's been inducted in Arkansas' Black Hall of Fame.

DEMBY: I did not know it was a thing. That's amazing.

PARKER: It is. Oh.

(APPLAUSE)

PARKER: It is. The Black Hall of Fame is a thing because, fun fact, there's only one honorary member. Can you guess who the honorary member is?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Bill Clinton.

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: That's right. It is Bill Clinton.

DEMBY: It's Bill Clinton.

PARKER: President Bill Clinton (laughter). He's - OK, I don't know how to explain this to the youths that that was him in sunglasses, playing the saxophone. It was considered cool.

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: And I can't tell you why. Ask your parents. I don't - I don't know.

DEMBY: He's honorary, so, like, what does that mean? Does he not, like - you can't get discounts, right?

PARKER: Does he get - this is, like, a punchable card for, like, a free sub after, like, five...

(LAUGHTER)

DEMBY: Can come to the cookout. He just can't sit at the main table.

PARKER: There's, like, a separate-but-equal cookout?

(LAUGHTER)

DEMBY: Well, you know what I mean - accommodate the Secret Service. You know what I mean?

PARKER: Anyway.

DEMBY: We're not talking about Bill Clinton. That's not what we're doing. OK, sorry, sorry. Back to our guest. When she was 15 years old, she became one of the students in the second cohort to desegregate Arkansas schools. Tonight, she's here to give us some insight on an ellipsis in Arkansas education history.

PARKER: Please welcome Little Rock's own, Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton.

(APPLAUSE)

PARKER: Whoo (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #10: Whoo. Yes, Sybil.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #10: Whoo.

PARKER: Oop (ph). Got you, got you. Ooh. Dr. Hampton, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with us this evening. Now, like, I - so I grew up knowing about the Little Rock Nine. That was in 1957. And it's such a big part of Black history discussions. But one thing that I just never knew about was the lost year. That's when Governor Orval Faubus shut down all the high schools in Little Rock from 1958 to 1959, and that's because he didn't want them to continue integrating. But what was the lost year like for you?

SYBIL JORDAN HAMPTON: Well, I was 14 years old, and I was in junior high school. So the lost year was something that I observed in families that had students who would be in high school. For instance, I knew people who went to Wrightsville - you know, moved out into - went to schools in Pulaski County or moved places where they had family members around the state. Some people literally moved to other states. But I think the thing that is the most distressing is that approximately 93% of the Anglo students who were in high school in Little Rock found alternative educational opportunities, but only 50% of the African American students found opportunities.

And so you have a situation in which lots of children across the face of the community were in a situation where they took correspondence courses if they could. Some students went to work. Some students got married early. Some people went into the military. Some people never went back to high school again. And so you have, you know, that stain on our community, as there was a situation in which there were literally people who did not earn a degree because they went on with their lives.

DEMBY: I mean, some of the Little Rock Nine left the state. Some of them didn't graduate from high school. Did your family ever consider that for you?

HAMPTON: We knew families around us, but it - I was too young. I was not a high-school student, and so I did not suffer the fate.

PARKER: So when you saw what happened with the Little Rock Nine in '57, and in the fall of 1959, all the high schools opened back up, and you were set to start at Central High, you were 15. And this was your yearbook photo at Central.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Aw.

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: How - you see that girl. How did you feel before that...

DEMBY: Yes.

PARKER: ...First day of school?

HAMPTON: Well, you know, I think that what is really important to say is that I knew five of the students who were in the Little Rock Nine. And so that - those of us who really entered the next queue did not believe that we were going to nirvana, you know? We understood that it was going to be difficult. The question was - what was going to be difficult? It was an unknown. And that was the first day. And remember, Carlotta and Jeff from the Little Rock Nine began on the day that school began.

PARKER: When you were a high-school senior, you - there were 544 people in your graduating class, and you were the only Black student to graduate that year.

HAMPTON: Yes.

PARKER: Oh, yeah, you can clap.

(APPLAUSE)

PARKER: And I've heard you tell the story of your graduation day and how it was tumultuous and, you know, your - being able to go to the football field was difficult and your parents' inability to participate. I guess the biggest question, I think, as a young person, when we hear stories like yours - was it worth it?

HAMPTON: Indeed. There is never a day - yes.

(APPLAUSE)

HAMPTON: There is never a day in which I ever question - should I have done that? There's never a day in which I feel that whatever I suffered was in vain - for the following reason. I was shunned. No one spoke to me for three years. That was the horror of the situation, and people have no idea that people kicking you and throwing things at you, making you feel that they might be violent toward you is one type of resistance. But the resistance in that 1959-60 year was, we don't want you here. You don't belong here, and we're going to treat you as if you're not here. And so in my homeroom, there was not one person in the three years who ever spoke to me.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Aw.

HAMPTON: And I don't think there were more than three people in any class that ever spoke to me. And so that was a - that was an incredible lesson in how people can send the message that you don't belong, that you don't deserve the respect, you don't deserve human kindness, that you're not on the same level with them as a human being.

DEMBY: So in the classroom, you were being shunned. You were isolated. Like, what was it like outside of school when you were back?

HAMPTON: I had a rich and vibrant life because I was a Girl Scout. I went to church. I did things with my friends at Horace Mann. And so that's the other thing - is that the message to say you don't belong here, we don't want you, was counterbalanced by the love of a community that had made me who I was. And so that is such an important part of what I think the strength we drew was, and the confidence we had came from, we knew who we were. So for people to treat me as if I didn't matter, that was what they were doing. But there was no way in which I didn't know that I mattered, and I did not know that I could continue to quest for excellence and thrive, even under those crazy circumstances.

(APPLAUSE)

PARKER: How did that experience affect your life going forward? Did it inform your career? Did it inform any things you wanted to do?

HAMPTON: I thought on graduation evening that if I never saw another teenager, it would be too soon.

(LAUGHTER)

HAMPTON: And my mother was a teacher. And so I thought, I'm not going to be a teacher, and I'm not going to have anything to do with young people. And yet my life became a life in which I was involved in higher education. The things that I did when I was at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation or the GT Corporate Foundation really all turned on touching the lives of young people, touching the future. So that I think what I felt as I grew up after college and started thinking about my career, is that one of the failures in Little Rock was that the teachers were as ill prepared for us to be in the school as the students.

And so I started thinking about systems, you know, that if we want change, you can't direct the change to the individual students. They come and go. You've got to attack the permanent part of the system. So that I think my career became a career in which I always wanted to move at the colleges to be in a place where I would help to make policy, help to modify policy, that I wanted to be in decision-making so that my voice, which was a voice that was different and saw things in a different way, would be a respected voice and be a part of getting something else did.

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: Well, this goes to my next question. When you have Governor Sanders make an executive order condemning what she believes to be critical race theory when it's just, you know, the reality of a lot of, like, teaching America's racial history, and you're - are you worried that this moment in your life that was a part of an ongoing national story might disappear from the history books?

HAMPTON: Absolutely not. I'm not worried that it's going to disappear from the history books, but I am worried that some people who are quite ignorant are not going to get with the program, and that they're going to try to put stumbling blocks in the way. I'm not worried that it's going to disappear, but I am - I will say to you that if I were 15 years old now and they were going to desegregate the schools in Little Rock, I'd be afraid. I was not afraid. I was never afraid one day. I was careful, but I wasn't afraid. But I think the tenor of the leadership and the nastiness is - makes me feel fear. And that's the thing that distresses me is this sense of evil, this sense of not understanding that as with public radio, public schools - the public has to be in the public schools.

(APPLAUSE)

HAMPTON: I think what people also don't know about the Lost Year is that not only did the governor make the decision, but the legislature met prior to that time, passed probably about 15 laws that impacted the situation, and one of the laws that was passed that is most interesting when we think about the LEARNS Act was to make it possible for students, who were not Black students, but for students to take the funds that they would have had to go to the public high schools, and they could have used them that year in either private or public high schools. So there is a very interesting link between legislation that was passed in that year of 1968 and where we are today.

PARKER: Dr. Hampton.

(APPLAUSE)

PARKER: Oh, gosh. Golly. All right. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. It's been amazing to get your thoughts on the past, present and the future of education in Arkansas. And speaking of the future, we've got an incredibly talented high school student from your alma mater coming up.

DEMBY: She's a member of the youth poetry group Writeous Poets. That's Writeous with a W. Get it? Writeous. And she has an incredible poem that she's going to perform for us here right now. Give it up for Jakira Franklin.

(CHEERING)

JAKIRA FRANKLIN: Hey, everyone. My name's Jakira, and I want to know.

(Reading) I want to know more about Black history, exact history, fact history, to better understand about my background so that I can get some ground back. Cue the drums like I got my sound back. I don't want no gangster rap or no sorrowful tracks to be my soundtrack. Wouldn't it be fun to know where mothers, fathers, daughters and sons should go? Where the first people knew the sun could glow? Where my soul connects above, beyond, beside, below? I want to know more about Black history, exact history, fact history. Have you ever thought about joining, belonging, fitting into something Black? A Black club for Black knowledge like an HBCU, a Black college? Other students may know, but I want to know for myself how I'm from the land with the holy valuable text. They say the spirit should be well known and helps me grow my health.

(Reading) Knowing helps me not feel like I'm left out - left out of the curriculum they write, left out of school sites, left out at a basketball game like the kid with no height, simply left outright. That ain't right. I want to know more about Black history, exact history, fact history. I don't like how they want to take away a Black history class when it's one of the most important classes I could have, a class I definitely want to pass because I want to know more about Black history, exact history, fact history - not a side history, a live history, a wise history. It's my history. It's my history. It's my history.

(CHEERING)

JAKIRA: Thank you. Thank you.

(CHEERING)

JAKIRA: Thank you. Thank you.

DEMBY: Jakira, thank you so much for that. What inspired that poem?

JAKIRA: Mr. McAdoo, my art teacher. He helped me write my poem for the first time.

DEMBY: This is your first poem.

JAKIRA: And he inspired me - yeah, this was my first poem ever. And I saw in the news how the governor wanted to take away the AP African American Studies, and I didn't like that. So we wrote this poem together, and that's how it came.

(CHEERING)

DEMBY: That's what's up. OK. OK.

PARKER: I wanted to ask one more thing because we're talking about the discrediting of the AP Black - African American history class. You told us this morning - what happened? You applied for the class?

JAKIRA: Oh, yeah. I applied for it - the course for next year, my junior year.

PARKER: So - but you taking the class anyway. You can do what you're going to do. Go ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

DEMBY: Dr. Hampton, since we have you here, are there any words of advice or wisdom you want to impart on your fellow Central High Tiger?

HAMPTON: Jakira, you cannot control all of the events that may happen to you, but you can decide to not be reduced by them. And that's what Maya Angelou says.

JAKIRA: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

DEMBY: Thank you both so much for being here. Y'all, give it up for Jakira Franklin and Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton.

(CHEERING)

LIZARRAGA: And, Little Rock, that's our show.

DEMBY: That is our show.

(CHEERING)

DEMBY: We have so, so, so many thank yous, starting especially with the team at Little Rock Public Radio.

LIZARRAGA: Yes.

(CHEERING)

LIZARRAGA: Yes, yes, yes. Thank you so, so much to KUAR for having us here tonight, bringing our team out here, letting us do this with you all, really, seriously, especially Grace Zafasi, Beth Wells...

(CHEERING)

LIZARRAGA: ...Beth Wells, Jonathan Seaborn and the entire team at Little Rock Public Radio - would not be here without y'all. Thank you so much. And a personal thank you to Daniel Breen and Josie Lenora from KUAR, as well as David Ramsey from the Arkansas Times, for all of your help answering every single one of my questions about all things LEARNS. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

LIZARRAGA: Thank you also to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and CWP Productions for hosting us and to our wonderful guests, Dr. Sybil Hampton and Jakira Franklin.

(CHEERING)

DEMBY: We also need to thank all the people who made this show happen on CODE SWITCH. So a huge thank you to our event director, Lia Crockett, our event producer Haley Howell (ph). Our sound engineers were Josh Newell, the great, Carleigh Strange, the magnificent. Our producer and art director is Christina Cala. Our editor is Leah Donnella. Our executive producer is Veralyn Williams.

And we would be remiss if we did not shout out the rest of the CODE SWITCH massive for sitting through us with all these read-throughs, helping us craft this show and get it tight. That's Jess Kung, Xavier Lopez, Dalia Mortada, Courtney Stein, Julia Carney and Steve Drummond.

LIZARRAGA: That's our team.

PARKER: All right. And last but not least, thank you, our audience.

(CHEERING)

PARKER: We couldn't do any of this without you. I'm B.A. Parker.

DEMBY: I'm Gene Demby.

LIZARRAGA: And I'm Lori Lizarraga.

DEMBY: Little Rock, be easy.

(CHEERING)

PARKER: All right.

Copyright © 2024 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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