Carry the Rock: Race, Football, and the Soul of an American City

Despite being a life-long resident of central Arkansas with numerous Central High graduates as friends I was surprised by how little I knew before reading this book. Some of the racial history covered stories that I was unaware of. It is a good primer for both Little Rock's social history and Southern race relations. After reading this book I will never think about Central High in the same way. During a pregame meal for a Arkansas high school, someone notices that both the coaching staff and the football team have self-segregated; black staff and white staff, black players and white players separate.

It is a quiet but telling moment. Fifty years after nine black students faced screaming mobs and the hostility of staff and government while trying to enter Little Rock's Central High School. The divide that matters most to Central High School's coach Bernie Cox is the divide between winners and losers. His football team is three years out from their last state championship and do not seem to have the drive and devotion to regain the title.

Coach Cox tries to instill pride and structure in his team, but they are pulled in many directions Author Jay Jennings follows the Central High School Tigers from summer practices through a frustrating season and season's end. Coach Cox is a powerful presence but his players are not fleshed out and remain one dimensional.

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Carry the Rock: Race, Football, and the Soul of an American City [Jay Jennings] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In , nine African. Carry the Rock has 39 ratings and 6 reviews. Guy said: This book is a reminder that we are not far removed from the Central High Crisis, and that we.

The interwoven storyline of the struggle to integrate is actually the more engrossing. The real disappointment is how little the two seem to mesh Without those voices this book is good, but not great. One person found this helpful. See all 14 reviews. Most recent customer reviews. Published on April 12, Published on January 4, Published on August 12, Vine Customer Review of Free Product. Published on April 27, Published on January 3, Published on December 26, Published on October 28, Published on October 25, Published on October 7, There's a problem loading this menu right now.

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AmazonGlobal Ship Orders Internationally. Amazon Inspire Digital Educational Resources. Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go. Amazon Restaurants Food delivery from local restaurants. ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. East Dane Designer Men's Fashion. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. The team's best athlete, safety Kaelon Kelleybrew, had missed several games, including the Russellville loss, and other d-backs had suffered injuries.

Even so, the secondary had underperformed.

On the Friday of the Catholic game, as Jones and some other football players left their stagecraft class being held behind the auditorium's proscenium--a class in which only nose guard Quinton Brown was applying himself, conceiving a set for Women of Troy--Jones glanced at the words he'd lettered earlier in the year on the back of a scenery scrim: But on this late October night, as the ball hung in the galaxy of lights above the seventy-one-year-old Quigley Stadium, K.

Jones saw that its trajectory was off--the pass was badly overthrown, or perhaps was intended to go out of bounds but had not been thrown far enough. In any case, Jones ignored the receiver and tracked the ball as it descended toward the sideline. At his own 5-yard line, he leapt and caught the ball above his head.

His left foot came down on the 3-yard line and his right crossed in front of it, landing inches inbounds at the 2. As he brought the ball into his gut to secure the interception, he stepped out at his own 1-yard line, right in front of the Central student section, which erupted. The players also burst into cheers, some even raising both arms in a gesture that mimicked a touchdown signal. The reality, however, was that the Tigers remained ninety-nine yards away from the goal line, as far away as they could be from a touchdown.

The offense trotted into its own end zone, and the bulbs on the scoreboard at the other end looked distant and dim.

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Above the numbers reporting the six-point difference, the players could see the painted sign identifying the structure as Quigley Stadium, named for an early Central coach, Earl Quigley, and below it--but for some reason in larger letters--the grass they stood on as Bernie Cox Field. From his position on the sidelines, head coach Bernie Cox himself looked on.

It was a field he sometimes walked and pulled weeds from, as if it were his own well-tended front yard, but if Cox accepted and appreciated such honors, he didn't relish or encourage them.

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This one had been planned in , the year before he was elected to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, by Kevin Crass, a Little Rock lawyer whose son had played for Cox. Now a brass plaque with his etched likeness, a stern visage one could imagine as Mark Antony, was screwed to a pillar in the stadium's concourse, reading in part: Former players routinely state their gratitude for the impact Coach Cox had upon their lives.

Parents of his players see firsthand this impact upon their sons. The slightest rain left pools of water on the main-level concession area and in the locker rooms below the east stands. A pigeon infestation among the concrete supports over the concourse kept the cleaning staff occupied. The coaches met in the same one-room office from which Clyde Van Sickle, a former Green Bay Packers guard, had run the team in the brand-new, Works Progress Administration-built stadium after he took over the head coach's job in At that time, it was a marvel of modernity, the largest football facility in the state.

Since Bernie Cox had arrived in as an assistant, the walls of the office, he estimated, had been painted twice--both times in a Tiger old gold that has since faded to Dijon mustard. When he ascended to head coach in , he moved approximately six feet away from the assistant coaches' table to the room's only desk, next to a big window that looked out into the locker room. For thirty-two years, his stare had struck fear in the hearts of players tough enough to make it in the NFL and smart enough to become surgeons. Damien Lee, a Division I college prospect at tight end, said that once, during a busy class changeover, Cox tripped going up the school's front steps, his armload of books spilling around him.

I didn't know whether to go help him or not. No one had expected that there would be significant problems with desegregation in Little Rock.

Carry the Rock: Race, Football, and the Soul of an American City

The city's reputation as a place with moderate views on race relations, especially among its community leaders, seemed to bode well for peaceful adherence to the law decided in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in The second Brown decision, which came to be known as Brown II and was handed down in , added the provision that desegregation should proceed "with all deliberate speed"--four words that have befuddled constitutional scholars for years--but left specific remedies largely to the discretion of local districts.

Future cases would determine "whether the action of school authorities constitutes good faith implementation. Conceived largely by superintendent of schools Virgil Blossom, a hulking former college football player whose girth and sometimes autocratic manner belied his dainty name, the program originally called for integrating at the elementary school level before gradually moving up to the high schools. Over the year between the two Brown decisions, his proposal was turned on its head, starting with one high school, Central High, and trickling down over the next seven years to the lower grades.

It also became more restrictively cautious, whittling down, through screening and interviews, the initial list of seventy black candidates requesting transfer into Central to the famous nine. They were the best and brightest, superior students of good character who knew they were taking a moral and political as well as a personal and educational stand: For some black leaders, nine was not enough. The primary voice protesting Blossom's minimalist start came from the Arkansas Council on Human Relations, a biracial organization whose members included the progressive editor Harry Ashmore of the Arkansas Gazette; Daisy Bates, then of the NAACP and later the chief mentor of the Little Rock Nine; and a young black attorney named John Walker, the group's associate director.

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Colbert Cartwright, a Disciples of Christ minister who was the chairman of the board of the organization, contended that under the Blossom plan, "every effort was being made to keep the number of Negroes entering white schools to a minimum. The school board members, as well as most of the city's business leaders, lived in the affluent Heights area, and their children would be attending Hall High, to be newly opened, unintegrated, in That left the burden of desegregation to be imposed on the mostly middle-and lower-class families remaining at Central, groups with whom governor Orval Faubus felt some kinship.

On Labor Day, the day before classes were to begin, Little Rockians returning home from a last gasp of summer at Lake Hamilton or the newly created Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs might have noticed caravans of National Guard troops descending on the city, headed for Central High. Faubus had ordered them there, as he stated in a televised address that night, to "protect the lives and property of citizens," but he added that that might not be possible "if forcible integration is carried out tomorrow.

By the next morning, a crowd of four hundred to five hundred people had gathered at the school, along with Little Rock police and soldiers. Concurrently, legal efforts by white groups to stop integration had been brought in several local courts, and, finally, after weighing the potential for trouble, the school board itself had asked for a delay.

Under instructions from Blossom, all black students and black employees stayed away from Central High on the first day of school, "until this dilemma is legally resolved. Davies, on a temporary appointment from North Dakota to help reduce the caseload in Arkansas, ruled that integration must proceed. On Wednesday, September 4, the crisis got its iconographic moment. Late Tuesday night, Bates had instructed the nine students to meet before school the next morning at her home, where a phalanx of black and white ministers, whose presence she hoped might shield them from potential trouble, would escort them to the school.

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The family of fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford didn't have a phone, and, in the confusion of the events of the next morning, she was not informed of the plan. She took a city bus to the corner of Park and Twelfth Streets, two blocks north of the school.

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A crowd of two hundred white protesters was waiting for her opposite the school, waving Confederate flags and Nigger Go Home! Barred from entering, she crossed in front of the school toward the bus stop at Sixteenth Street for the return trip home, and photographer Will Counts of the Arkansas Democrat caught the stoicism of her face behind her big, tortoise-shell sunglasses as she walked away from the jeering mob, a picture of vulnerability and courage amid apoplectic anger. The image would introduce Little Rock's dilemma to the nation and the world. After more legal jockeying, on September 20, Faubus removed the National Guard under court order, and five days later, after the black students faced a mob of some one thousand outside the school with only Little Rock police for protection, president Dwight Eisenhower federalized the Guard and called in the st Airborne Division to help ensure the nine students' entrance and future safety.

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For the rest of the fall, as the soldiers remained at "Fort Central" and escorted the black students in and out of the building and from class to class, the nine precariously tried to balance the ordinary anxieties and activities of high school with the controversy swirling around them. The security detail could not prevent them from being harassed by a persistent group of tormentors. Excerpted from Carry the Rock: