Preface to the Second Edition
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Preface to the SecondEdition rkansas in 1953 was a very different place than now,when Winthrop Rockefeller set down his suitcase at the Sam Peck Hotel in Little Rock determined to make this state his home. That he did make it his home is manifestly evident in all the changes he wrought, and so many elements of that progress are attributable to him—race relations, industrial and economic development , a two-party system of government, education, prison reform—and a whole range of other changes and improvements that have made life better for his fellow citizens. He was frustrated but determined from the very beginning, starting with his assessment that Arkansas labored under "a vast inferiority complex." He vowed to change that perspective, talking directly to as manyArkansans as he could—from the most humble farmer to the highest industrialist. He did convince manyArkansans that there was a better way, that there was a world beyond the borders ofthe state that could be a rich source oflearning and example for all who would tap into it. One issue ofgreat importance to him had to dowith desegregating the publicschools, and the despicable behavior ofthe governor and many other public officials who would fight at all costs the entry of black students into the school system. Rockefeller spent a considerable amount of time attempting to talk Governor Orval Faubus out of making that school house stand that he was determined to make and which ultimately was a great failure. He told Rockefeller at one oftheir meetings that he had "no choice" but to proceed as he did. Rockefeller argued against that policy to the very end, explaining that all the work they had done together in building up industries inArkansas—which were alreadyproviding A; viii Preface to the Second Edition employment for thousands of Arkansans—was seriously threatened by Arkansas's segregationist stand. Rockefeller pointed out to Faubus what the governor already knew, of course, that many thousands of Arkansans were without jobs as the mechanization of farming,particularly in the Delta, spread rapidly.Arkansas survived that time and also survived Faubus, but Rockefellerwas convinced that the state's progress waspermanently hampered by the Faubus policy. Rockefeller turned even more toward improving education,providing scholarships through the Rockwin Fund and later building a model school in Morrilton,to show what could be donewithplanning and by deepening the educational offerings to give students more choices and thus more opportunities. Meanwhile, he continued to develop Winrock Farms, and it became an example of excellence of world-wide significance. He made sure that local farmers had access to the methods employed at Winrock so that they might upgrade the quality oftheir agricultural programs accordingly. As governor, Rockefeller appointed Sonny Walker, a black man, to direct the Office of Economic Opportunity,and thus set a standard for enabling African Americans and other races to have a real chance at serving their fellow man in high positions. All in all, his administration was very progressive, and set in place a standard that was permanently unhitched from those that had preceded his and that paved the way for future progressive governors. Upon leaving office, Rockefeller said he wanted historians to think of him as more than a political phenomenon. He wanted to be remembered as "a catalyst who hopefully served to excite in the hearts and minds of our people a desire to shape our own destiny ." Even in death, Winthrop Rockefeller continues to influence the state. Hislegacy lives onthrough his philanthropy and the economic , cultural, and political reform he brought to Arkansas that changed it for the better. John Ward March 2011 ...