LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) – The Little Rock Nine memorial, one of the most visited spots on the state capitol grounds, has been in desperate need of repairs as its foundation continues to crumble at its feet.
An employee of the Arkansas Education Association walks by the statue every day during her route around the capitol.
“I enjoy the beauty of it,” said Alice Canady. “I mean, they do a good job of keeping it up and it’s just nice to walk by the memorials.”
Out of the more than 20 monuments on the grounds, one of her favorites brings to life another walk, one that changed history. Nine students marched defiantly toward an angry mob as they integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
But the Little Rock Nine were covered up on Canady’s walk Wednesday as crews hammered away at the foundation they stand on, which has been cracking for some time since the monument’s dedication in 2005.
“My first thought was that they were removing it, and I was concerned,” Canady said.
The Secretary of State, the office that maintains the grounds, is repairing the memorial at a cost of $7,500, according to Chris Powell, the office’s spokesperson.
“To know that they are maintaining it is a good thing,” Canady said. “Because they’re maintaining history. That is a good reminder of where we were and hopefully we’re getting away from that and going forward.”
Younger generations can appreciate the students’ courage every time they walk by it.
“I really like it because my dad told me that it’s been there for a very long time,” said Victory Coates, the young daughter of a state employee. “We drive past it every time we pick him up and drop him off. I feel a special connection to it. It just really moves me and I want to know more about it.”
“The depth of it they may not truly understand,” Canady said about the children who visit the memorial. “But hopefully most of them that go there understand that is there to show a real struggle of what Arkansas went through to become, hopefully, one and hopefully remain that way.”
Just as Canady hopes the monument remains along her daily walk for years to come.
“I wouldn’t have it anywhere else,” she said.
Powell said the repairs should be complete by the end of the week, ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine in September.