I flew into Little Rock Airport on a Thursday morning for a quick visit to the Clinton Library and two other sites. The trip was a whirlwind, but as always, I met insightful people and learned much. Three sites in Little Rock are just a small selection of what this city offers.
Clinton Presidential Library
My second visit to the Clinton library began with lunch at 42 Bar and Table. Not all presidential libraries have a restaurant, but this was a busy place at lunchtime. They also have a dinner service and a large outdoor patio overlooking the Arkansas River.
Volunteer coordinator Ann Kamps joined me for a quick bite before she led me on an immersive tour. The library will celebrate its 19th anniversary in November.
Ann was born in Huntsville, Alabama, and a fan of the Crimson Tide, so we had much in common. I also discovered that she had been with the Clinton Foundation for nineteen years. Ann also served as Secretary Clinton’s assistant in 1985 after Bill Clinton was elected to a second term as Governor. I could not have had a better-informed tour guide.
Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes, and Women’s Rights
We began with the Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes, and Women’s Rights exhibit. Dr. Allida Black curated this exhibit to commemorate the signing of the 19th amendment in 2020 and the Fourth world conference on Women. Dr. Black approached each artist about the exhibit. There is a short film featuring the women activists who continue the fight for women’s rights around the globe.
The exhibit features eighteen handmade quilts that were explicitly designed for the exhibit. The quilts tell a story of the fight for women’s rights beginning in 1838. The quilts are impressive and informative. Female artists made all but one quilt.
One quilt stood out to me. Fifty-seven of the important women throughout history. From the Supreme Court Justices who cracked the ceiling to Eleanor Roosevelt. Visitors will recognize many of the women. Shirley Chisum, Melinda Gates, Oprah, and others. It is a large, beautiful, and insightful look into the fight for women’s rights.
In September 2019, the Library hosted an event with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and nearly fifteen thousand people attended her speech. It was a milestone event for the library and Little Rock.
Artifacts are continuously rotated in the exhibit hall.
When the library opened, a man tried to steal some papers from the Presidential document boxes lining the library walls. NARA had to install plexiglass so people couldn’t get to them.
Clinton was the first baby boomer president. He visits the library often and has a private suite above the Oval Office for when he is in Little Rock. I am told that President Biden is using the rug that served in Clinton’s office.
The Oval Office is an exact replica of Clinton’s office in the White House. On a visit during construction, the President mentioned that the ceiling was too low, so it was raised eleven inches to meet the correct height.
The library has an app that visitors can use for virtual visits to the library. It will provide a look at all the permanent exhibits.
The Clinton Presidential Library is an ever-evolving bridge to the future.
Want to learn more about the Clinton Library? See my first post here.
This small museum is a testament to Anita Davis’s dream to explore art, history, and the feminine. This is only one of three purse museums in the world. It is Davis’ collection. The collection features handbags from the 1900s through the 2000s. Davis has been collecting for fifty years.
It is curious how women have changed what they needed to carry over the years. I recognized similar bags to those carried by my mother in the 60s and 70s. This museum speaks to both history and the feminine sense.
The store sells unusual, quirky handbags.
The museum is dedicated to relating the story of the African American experience in Arkansas. The Mosaic Templars, a black fraternal business organization, was incorporated in Little Rock in 1883 by two former slaves, John E. Bush and Chester W. Keatts.
The Templars provided services such as burial insurance for African Americans. The Templars’ influence grew within the African American community in newspapers, hospitals, and other services. Unfortunately, by mid-1930, the organization went into receivership and could not regain itself in the community.
There is a short movie that introduces visitors to African American history in Little Rock. And the exhibits throughout the museum walk visitors through African American history in the U.S.
Black Hall of Fame on the third floor features individuals who have impacted African American Culture in Arkansas.
Today the building serves as a community center and museum. The museum has no entrance fee, but donations are accepted.
Want to learn more about Little Rock? Visit Little Rock here.