Sunday, September 23, 2007
From The Chicago Tribune…
Emancipation Proclamation Draws Crowds
By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press Writer
As she looked at the Emancipation Proclamation, Catherine Jewell-Gill recalled her days of picking cotton in Arkansas as a child and later becoming a teacher and principal.
Jewell-Gill was among more than 2,100 people who filed through the Clinton Library on Saturday to see the three-page document that declared the end to slavery. Jewell-Gill, 72, said having the document in Little Rock during the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School pulls history together.
“I think it coincides beautifully,” she said.
More than 10,000 people are expected to file past the proclamation during its four-day stay in the city, a rare trip outside the National Archive.
On Saturday, people came from as far away as California for a chance to look at the document’s cursive script and President Abraham Lincoln’s signature. The calligraphy drew Abby Loyd’s attention.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Loyd, 30, of Little Rock.
The proclamation, issued in the midst of the Civil War, comes as Little Rock celebrates the 50th anniversary of nine black students braving angry white crowds to attend classes at Central High. President Dwight D. Eisenhower dispatched federalized troops to protect the students and uphold the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregated schools are unconstitutional.
That history drew Martina Westmoreland and her husband and son from Pasadena, Calif., to Little Rock for the weekend.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this anniversary,” said Westmoreland, 62. “I’m also very much impressed with Little Rock itself. … I always think of civil rights as being a problematic period, but I like the way that Little Rock is saying it’s celebrating 50 years of integration.”