(House of Representatives - September 12, 2017)

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[Pages H7251-H7253]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                            MODIFICATION ACT

  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass 
the bill (H.R. 2611) to modify the boundary of the Little Rock Central 
High School National Historic Site, and for other purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 2611

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Little Rock Central High 
     School National Historic Site Boundary Modification Act''.


       Section 2 of Public Law 105-356 (112 Stat. 3268) is 
       (1) by redesignating subsections (b), (c), (d), and (e) as 
     subsections (c), (d), (e), and (f), respectively;
       (2) by inserting after subsection (a) the following:
       ``(b) Boundary Modification.--The boundary of the historic 
     site is modified to include the 7 residences on South Park 
     Street in Little Rock, Arkansas, consisting of 1.47 acres, as 
     generally depicted on the map entitled `Central High School 
     National Historic Site Proposed Boundary', numbered 037/
     80,001, and dated August, 2004.''; and
       (3) in subsection (d) (as redesignated by paragraph (1))--
       (A) in paragraph (1), by striking ``(1) The Secretary'' and 
     inserting the following:
       ``(1) In general.--The Secretary'';
       (B) in paragraph (2), by striking ``(2) The Secretary'' and 
     inserting the following:
       ``(3) Coordination.--The Secretary''; and
       (C) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following:
       ``(2) Cooperative agreements for the preservation and 
     interpretation of certain properties.--
       ``(A) In general.--The Secretary may enter into cooperative 
     agreements with the owners of the 7 residences referred to in 
     subsection (b) pursuant to which the Secretary may use 
     appropriated funds to mark, interpret, improve, restore, and 
     provide technical assistance with respect to the preservation 
     and interpretation of the properties.
       ``(B) Inclusions.--An agreement entered into under 
     subparagraph (A) shall include a provision specifying that no 
     changes or alterations shall be made to the exterior of the 
     properties subject to the agreement, except by the mutual 
     agreement of the parties to the agreement.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Utah (Mr. Bishop) and the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Ms. Hanabusa) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah.

                             General Leave

  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members have 5 legislative days to revise

[[Page H7252]]

and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the bill 
under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Utah?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman 
from Arkansas (Mr. Hill), the sponsor of this excellent piece of 
  Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, 60 years ago today, all eyes were on South Park Street 
that fronts the beautiful facade of Central High School in Little Rock, 
Arkansas. Just days before, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus had called 
out the National Guard to prevent nine Black students from entering the 
school on September 4. Central High and its beautiful neighborhood had 
become ground zero in the march to end the five-decade legacy of Plessy 
v. Ferguson, ``separate but equal,'' to bring it to reality.
  Now, just over 3 years after the Brown decision, it was time for 
action. In a few days, on the 25th of this month, we will celebrate the 
successful integration of Central High School, when the Little Rock 
Nine entered the school escorted by the troops of the 101st Airborne.
  It is fitting today, Mr. Speaker, that we pay tribute to the Little 
Rock Nine, their defenders, and the successful end to separate but 
equal. We recognize this important milestone today on this House floor 
by passing a bill on the suspension calendar that expands the park 
boundary of the national historic site at Little Rock Central High 
School. This is a historic and important touchstone for all of those 
modern-day history travelers retracing the steps of the civil rights 
  The Little Rock National Historic Site Visitor Center was opened in 
2007 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the integration of 
Central High. Today's measure, H.R. 2611, is a simple one: extending 
the park boundaries to take in the houses that fronted the school along 
beautiful South Park Street so that future generations will be able to 
picture this tranquil street, an architecturally significant facade of 
Central High, and reflect back on those 21 days of trauma in September 
  I thank my colleague who is in our Chamber today, civil rights 
pioneer and courageous actor John Lewis, for his cosponsorship.
  I thank our majority leader, Chairman Bishop, and the Natural 
Resources Committee for their expeditious treatment of this important 
measure, and I salute Senator Cotton for his leadership in advancing 
this important legislation in the United States Senate.
  I look forward to President Trump signing this bill and again 
recognizing that we have to embrace our past and learn from our 
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, it is my honor at this time to yield such 
time as he may consume to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Lewis), a 
civil rights pioneer and legend.
  Mr. LEWIS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentlewoman 
from Hawaii for yielding time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this bill. I am proud to 
join the gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. Hill) in sponsoring this 
legislation to update the Little Rock Central High School National 
Historic Site.
  In 1954, the Supreme Court issued a historic decision in the Brown v. 
Board of Education case, which desegregated our Nation's public 
schools. Unfortunately, the law of the land did not become the practice 
of its people overnight. It took the will of brave men and women and 
some very brave children, like the Little Rock Nine.
  Parents swallowed the fear for their children. Strong, innocent 
little children put their bodies on the line to force the change that 
justice demands. The actions changed the heart and the soul of our 
Nation, and we must admit today that our country is a better country 
and we are a better people because of these children, the mothers and 
fathers, the teachers, and many of our citizens.
  When Little Rock, Arkansas, leaders attempted to desegregate Central 
High School, the Governor fought back. He choose to stand on the side 
of hate and bigotry. It took a determined mayor, a strong President, 
the U.S. Army, and the Arkansas National Guard to protect these nine 
teenagers as they entered the school.
  In 1957, Mr. Speaker, I was 17 years old, and I vividly remember 
those days. These young people inspired all of us to stand up, to speak 
up, and to speak out. And many of us started saying: If the children in 
Little Rock can do what they are doing, we, too, can do it.
  For those of us watching on television, listening to the radio, and 
reading the newspapers, we were deeply inspired. We were moved to do 
something, to say something. I said to myself: We need to stand up the 
same way the people and students in Little Rock are standing up. I 
remember thinking that I could--that I must--find a way to get in the 
  Mr. Speaker, Central High is part of our history that must be 
preserved for a generation yet unborn.
  I remember very well, a few years ago, I visited that school and 
walked through the halls with a young African-American student who was 
president of the student body, who the principal asked to escort me 
through the school. I felt like I was walking in a special place, 
almost a holy place. It brought tears to my eyes.
  During those dark and difficult times, the national historic site 
became a beacon of hope, an inspiration that we can never give up, that 
we can never give in as we strive towards equal rights and justice for 
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Arkansas for introducing this 
bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to stand with the gentleman from 
Arkansas and the gentlewoman from Hawaii and support this piece of 

                              {time}  1400

  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Arkansas (Mr. Westerman), also a member of our committee and who 
has helped shepherd this bill through our committee and here on the 
  Mr. WESTERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of my colleague from Arkansas 
Congressman French Hill's bill, H.R. 2611, that will modify the 
boundary of the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site 
to include seven residences on South Park Street in Little Rock, 
  While this bill would authorize the National Park Service to enter 
into cooperative agreements with private property owners of the South 
Street properties, H.R. 2611 will do more. It will also help us to 
remember. It will help us to remember that on September 25, 1957, nine 
young people, with Federal troops for escorts, bravely walked past 
crowds of hatred, bigotry, emotional degradation, and even physical 
abuse to desegregate Little Rock Central High School.
  On that historic day in 1957, nine young people showed the United 
States and the world that we were and are better than segregation and 
better than racism and injustice. They proved to the world that, as 
Americans, we really do believe the Declaration of Independence when it 
says that all men are created equal.
  I believe that allowing the historical residences surrounding Little 
Rock Central High School to slip into disrepair or oblivion would be a 
severe injustice to those who gave of themselves to further the cause 
of civil rights and equality.
  I would like to thank my colleague from Arkansas (Mr. Hill) and the 
distinguished gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Lewis) for their work on this 
important issue, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 2611, introduced by Representative Hill and 
cosponsored by civil rights pioneer and legend, Representative Lewis of 
Georgia, amends Public Law 105-356, which established Little Rock 
Central High School National Historic Site.
  H.R. 2611 would modify the park's boundary and expand the park's 
authority to enter into cooperative agreements. The proposed boundary 
modification would include seven privately owned residences on South 
Park Street, consisting of 1.47 acres. The cooperative agreement 
authority provided by the bill will allow the National Park Service to 
give financial and technical aid to the property owners to preserve the 
facades and maintain the ambience of a 1957 historic scene.

[[Page H7253]]

  Images of the South Park Street properties are inextricably 
associated with the 1957 events. As images of the Little Rock Nine, 
crowds of protesters, the public, and the National Guardsmen appeared 
in newspapers across the Nation and were broadcast live through the 
emerging media of television, the neighborhood became as recognizable 
as the high school itself.
  Because South Park Street in front of Central High School retains a 
high degree of historical integrity, this legislation would provide a 
unique opportunity to preserve a setting that will allow visitors to 
more accurately visualize the events that occurred there in 1957 when 
the Little Rock Nine attempted to attend Central High School.
  In 1996, the surrounding neighborhood, including these seven 
privately owned homes, was listed on the National Register of Historic 
Places as the Central High School Neighborhood Historic District. The 
designation recognized the neighborhood's association with the 
significant events of 1957 as well as the architectural characteristics 
and qualities that remain relatively unchanged from that period.
  All the property owners and several community members have expressed 
their support for this proposal, including Central High Neighborhood, 
Inc., and Preserve Arkansas.
  As we move forward in these turbulent times, it is important that we 
do not forget the struggles of the Little Rock Nine and the 
neighborhood that moved America forward towards an integrated education 
  Mr. Speaker, I urge the passage of this bill, and I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, this bill, to me, is an extremely important bill. Sixty 
years ago, during this month, nine extraordinary students attended 
Little Rock, Arkansas' Central High School. They were kids picked for 
their academic ability and their maturity level because they were going 
to go through a year that no one had seen before and, hopefully, will 
ever see again.
  Mr. Speaker, perhaps because I taught high school for almost 30 
years, I understand the environment that took place here, and I have a 
great deal of empathy for these nine kids who went there. They could 
have easily been my students.
  This becomes a significant concept that on September 4, 60 years ago, 
the Governor of Arkansas ordered the National Guard to bar these nine 
kids from entrance into Central High School in Little Rock; then, after 
some pressure, he withdrew the protection so the kids were subject to 
the mobs and the violence that took place there at that time.
  On September 25, 60 years ago, Dwight Eisenhower had the courage and 
leadership--one of the reasons I respect him so much as a President--to 
order the Army 101st Airborne Division to go down to Little Rock to 
Central High School and to escort these nine kids through that first 
year and lead them to a school year like no other has ever been.
  This situation was, in my estimation, a pivotal moment in our 
Nation's civil rights history as well as our education history. We have 
often talked about how buildings and monuments are used to interpret 
history. That is exactly what Mr. Hill is attempting to do here with a 
significant site in America's history, to make sure that it is 
preserved--and not just the high school itself, but the seven 
residences that are across the street on South Park Street. Those 
residences there are part of the historical landmark which was made and 
designated in the Reagan administration. They are part of the 
designation on the National Register of Historic Places.

  Finally, in 1998, the high school and some surrounding areas were 
established as a National Historic Site. Those buildings still have 
significant historical integrity. They add to the definition and the 
story of history which must--which must--be remembered at all times.
  This bill expands the boundaries of this National Historic Site to 
include those residences so the National Park Service can, in 
cooperative agreements with the residents who still live there, make 
sure that that area will always be preserved as a place to interpret, 
improve, and provide the technical assistance to make sure this story 
of American history is not forgotten. It is part of the milieu.
  As the gentlewoman from Hawaii said, when you see pictures of these 
kids giving press conferences, you see these homes in the background. 
It is part and parcel to this story. The residents who live across the 
street are connected to the landmark events in September of 1957 and 
provide the backdrop for this particular element.
  I am appreciative of Mr. Hill of Arkansas for leading forth with this 
particular bill, realizing the significance, and I am happy that today, 
on the very month this was happening 60 years ago, we actually are 
talking about this particular event and desiring to secure these areas 
so that the history of this country will be remembered to its fullest 
  One of our staffers in the committee who helped in the drafting of 
this bill had the opportunity of having lunch with one of those Little 
Rock Nine. His essay won, and his reward was to have a chance to 
actually meet one of these heroic young women who went to Little Rock's 
Central High School 60-plus years ago.
  This is significant, and I cannot think of this story without in some 
way feeling choked up inside because I know what it must have been like 
for those kids to go there, and I know what it must have been like to 
be part of that milieu. This was historic. They were true heroes. They 
were truly brave kids who took this event on and did it with such 
aplomb. They need to be remembered.
  That is why I am happy that this bill is coming forward, so that we 
can expand the horizon and we can expand the area of this historic site 
so that we can make sure that this will be a protected area, so that 
the history will not be forgotten and so what these kids did in that 
very historic year of 1957 and 1958 in Little Rock will not be 
forgotten, and so the significance and the conviction those kids had 
and the experience they had to go through can be remembered and that we 
can never again go back there. We could never again replicate that 
area, and we will move forward in the area of civil rights as well as 
  Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here to support this bill. I am going 
to ask my colleagues to support this bill because it says so much about 
us, about our commitments, about our priorities, and about what we want 
to do, and it says so much about what is good in this country. This is 
the primary example of what we are attempting to do.
  Once again, Mr. Speaker, we appreciate all those who have spoken on 
behalf of this particular bill, those who have worked on this bill, and 
those who have sponsored this bill. This bill is something I think is 
really significant. It says something that is very positive about this 
country and helps us to remember that which is positive about this 
  Mr. Speaker, I am urging all my colleagues to support this, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Utah (Mr. Bishop) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 2611.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this motion will be postponed.