Interview with Harold Engstrom
QUESTION 1
INTERVIEWER:

THE FIRST QUESTION, COULD YOU GIVE A DESCRIPTION, A WORD PICTURE OF LITTLE ROCK, AT ABOUT THIS TIME, AS A CITY, A MODERATE CITY, MAYBE, AN IDEA OF HOW SEGREGATED A CITY IT WAS OR WASN'T AT THE TIME?

Harold Engstrom:

Little Rock was a city between the south and the southwest, between the southwest and the Midwest. It was a city that was growing. It was a city that was trying to make things better. We had new highway programs, we had hopes for better education. We were going through agricultural transition, from the farm animals to the farm machinery, and we'd all been to war, and found out that it was a bigger world, and that maybe we would be doing business with people outside of our state, or outside of our community. So, and we were trying to build a better school system, and those of us that were asked to serve on the board, or elected to serve on the board, that was our real objective, at the time. Our sole objective was to get our school system operating better each year, each – the teachers were into training programs, we school members were in a training program. We'd go to class, at night, and try to understand how to treat gifted children, and so on. And the integration of the schools was just one of our problems to be solved, and our Blossom plan was our solution. And we thought it was proper, right, and constructive, and that was the mood. Now, as to what – where we were, thirty years ago, in integration, so much different than we think of the question today, because we had just recently integrated our lunchrooms. We had just—beginning to think about integrating our, our—well, we weren't even thinking yet, probably, by—about integrating our churches. And so we're much further back, in the progress, then, than now, but—but it was not a—there was no clash in the community before the crisis. Everybody was trying to improve things, and of course, there were differences of opinion. There were different groups, but all of us, seemed to me, were trying to build a better world.