Last night I went to see a preview of the Little Rock 9 Opera at UCA. I had actually purchased the ticket before I really knew what it was about, as I often do with local events. Present were composer Tania León and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. It was fascinating in part because I knew the folks who had sort of made the event happen, one of the Little Rock 9 was in the crowd, and in general it was this weird overlap of the historic with the present day. It got me thinking about history, legacy, and who gets to shape it. It's strictly a coincidence of geography that one lives near 'Little Rock', the place where the school integration took place. It's a long time ago, and for the most part (with a few obvious exceptions) none of us were there, or in any way connected. So I thought it was interested that we, nevertheless, chose to commemorate that event that happened nearby. I suppose in part the question is 'if not us, who?' But by the same token, is a state that still struggles with segregation and racism really the place you want to memorialize these things? For example, we're now a majority Republican state - do they get to celebrate the end of racism, even as they write it into law in the present day? Does it just give them cover? Of course, I suppose this is also a slippery slope - let those among you who are free from sin, etc. But it struck me as odd.
I quite enjoyed what I saw of the opera. I look forward to seeing whether it is able to become something more than a local oddity.