I’ve lived in Missouri all of my life. I’ve never been tempted to visit Arkansas, even though it’s just next door. Well, last week, I went to Arkansas, and let me say first of all, it’s beautiful country. I promised myself that in the future, I want to visit Arkansas one weekend of every fall season. I can truthfully say that I’ve never seen more beautiful country, anywhere.
Actually, though, I didn’t go for the beautiful countryside. I was there to visit a historical college, Philander Smith College. It’s a part of my childhood. For many years of my life, I thought this was the college that all blacks attended.
As a member of the Methodist Church, during my childhood, all of my church professionals had attended Philander Smith for their training. I was honored to be invited there, especially since I had just recently learned that our old Sedalia black college, George R. Smith College, had been merged into Philander Smith in Arkansas after the Sedalia school burned down.
The first book I wrote, published in 1985, was about George R. Smith College. The officials of Philander Smith College had obtained through our local library information about my book. As a result I was invited to attend the one occasion of the year dedicated to the commemoration of the old school. As George Smith's daughters provided the first donations for the school, it was named for the founder of Sedalia. The college merged the assets of George R. Smith College in 1933. As my mentor was an alumnus of the old school, I was indeed honored.
I am sure, of course, that nobody goes to Little Rock, Ark., without visiting the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. It’s a magnificent library, detailing the eight years of his presidency. It’s an enormous space, spread out over three floors. Incidentally, it devoted space to Martin Luther King’s memorial March on Washington. Reliving the past and listening to the words spoken is to be re-engaged in the history of the times of the Clinton years.
It was a wonderful visit to times and places that have been locked in my memories for many years. It was good to remember and to reflect on the years gone by.
The old historical college and the Clinton legacy made for a satisfactory visit to regather the tools for the rest of my journey. It’s really interesting the way things come together.
Actually, I enjoyed the feel of it all.
Rose M. Nolen writes a weekly column for the Missourian. You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.