Arkansas Politics & Government: Do the People Rule?

By Diane D. Blair | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
The Past in the Present

The room was being crowded by incoming ballot boxes. Countrymen, most of them sweat-soaked and ragged and old, were bringing in boxes from rural precincts; wooden boxes, tin boxes, now and then a cigar box or egg crate. Voice of the people.

Charles M. Wilson, Rabble Rouser, 1936

I have got my first time to see any of them vote for a measure that truly had the interests of the people at heart.

State Senator, 1901

On March 29, 1984, fifteen hundred mourners gathered at Little Rock's Central High School to mourn the death of a beloved and valued Arkansan. Led by Governor Bill Clinton, an array of distinguished speakers expressed anguish over the loss of twenty-two-year-old Roosevelt Thompson, Jr., killed in an automobile accident while driving back for what would have been his triumphal last semester at Yale. Tribute was paid to all he had accomplished at Central High (president of his class, editor of the paper, starting lineman, Presidential scholar), to the further glories he had achieved at Yale (Phi Beta Kappa, the Lyman prize for scholarship and character, Rhodes scholar), and to the future many had assumed would be his: governor of Arkansas, perhaps U.S. senator, possibly the first black president. Governor Clinton, his voice breaking with emotion, read the passage from Luke in which a young Jesus preached to his elders at the temple in Jerusalem, and then asked the mourners to "thank God that we are

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