During my trip to America I spent two weeks visiting my mom in Arkansas. I was raised in Washington state, but after my parents divorce my mom moved to Arkansas, which is why I went there. Arkansas is one of those states that when you tell someone you are going there, they give you a strange look and ask “why would you go there?” And now I’m only inferring, but here are my guesses at why:
- Arkansas is in the bible belt, 86% of its population is Christian, 78% of those are Protestants. To my understanding they are the least fun branch of Christianity. They are the soggiest shredded wheat in the cereal bowl of religion.
- The state is pretty rural (read as poor). Unemployment for Arkansas is currently 8.9% and its average household income is $35,000.
- It is the corporate headquarters for Wal-Mart.
- They helped Texas become independent from Mexico (I hate Texas).
Arkansas does have some redeeming qualities though:
- It is where Bill Clinton is from.
- It is a mostly Democratic state, which is significant because it is in the south.
- It has been a location to significant civil rights events.
- It’s state beverage is milk.
Arkansas is known in my head as the location of the Little Rock Nine incident which was in 1957 and related to the supreme court case Brown vs. Board of Education. Basically in 1954 the supreme court ruled it unconstitutional for schools to be segregated, so the Little Rock school district implemented a plan to integrate students gradually, and that the students would attend the school in fall of 1957. This plan was approved by the school board. When the time came for integration, several groups were threatening to protest the integration of schools, the Governor of Arkansas deployed the National Guard to support the segregationist. There was a wall of soldiers blocking 9 black students from attending the school. President Eisenhower had to step in and tell the Governor to not defy the supreme court’s ruling. The president also had to send Army troops to escort the students through the school, and federalized the National Guard, taking it out of the Governors hands.
The state flag has several historical component. The diamond shape is because it is the only place in the USA with natural diamonds. Twenty five stars represent it’s being the 25th state in the union. The three stars in the bottom represents Arkansas’s three rulers, Spain, France and the USA. The fourth star though represents it being a confederate state, because that would be awful to forget.
While I am near the subject of civil rights, when we were in Memphis, we visited the motel where Martin Luther King Jr was shot. There isn’t much to say about the event, but the motel has since been turned into a civil rights museum.
While I was in Arkansas I spent a weekend at Lake Dardanelle, we took the RV and the boat and went out to enjoy the great outdoors. It was really hot in Arkansas during this week, which was really hard for me to deal with. The hottest weather I had been in was 104F/40C, and that was the heat record for the city of Seattle, and I felt badass for surviving that. Now I know that the weekend of the camping trip was at least that, but the week after camping Little Rock had set it’s own heat record which was 109F/43c and a heat index of 120f/48c. This information alone makes me never want to visit in the summer again. Anyway, about camping, I really enjoyed it. The days were spent relaxing by the lake reading Game of Thrones, going out on the boat to go inner-tubing, trying to take the dog on runs, and chatting with my Nanny, Mom, Ray and Whitney. The lake is completely beautiful, though one bank is also home to Arkansas’s only nuclear plant, and the sunsets were serene.