- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Southwest Times Record, Sept. 1, 2014

Boxer’s arrest in wake of shooting derails comeback

It was with great sadness that we learned last week of the arrest of boxer Jermain Taylor in connection with the shooting of his cousin, Tyrone Hinton.

Details were still slim on Friday, but it appeared that a fight broke out among Mr. Taylor, Mr. Hinton and another man at Mr. Taylor’s Maumelle residence. Police say Mr. Taylor “grabbed a weapon and opened fire,” according to a report from The Associated Press.

As of Friday, Mr. Hinton remained hospitalized in serious condition. The third man, still unnamed, was not injured.

On Wednesday, Mr. Taylor made a video appearance from the Pulaski County jail before a judge on preliminary charges of domestic battery and aggravated assault. He pleaded not guilty and was freed on a $25,000 bond, according to the AP.

The event comes in the midst of the former undisputed middleweight champion’s ongoing “comeback,” his attempt to redeem himself after he lost the title in 2007 and endured a devastating knockout in a 2009 fight.

A brain bleed left him with short-term memory loss and a diagnosis that should have kept him out of the ring permanently.

“They said with the type of concussion I had, you can never fight again - ever,” he told ESPN. That was just the first of two knockouts with significance consequences. In 2010, he was hospitalized after a knockout by Arthur Abraham in Germany, according to AP.

Writing for ESPN the Magazine last December, Carmen R. Thompson tried to describe the motivation that would leave Mr. Taylor seeking a comeback under those circumstances: “Taylor’s regrets could fill a book, with chapters for the money and fame that went to his head, his overconfidence after beating (Bernard) Hopkins, and his dysfunctional relationship with Ozell Nelson, his coach/father figure.”

The ESPN report also quotes Mr. Taylor himself: “I went up the mountain, and when I got there, I messed everything up. I want to be known as that person who got back on top and did it right.”

Two days after the ESPN piece appeared last December, Mr. Taylor knocked out Juan Carlos Candelo in the seventh round. But according to The New York Times, the win, against a hand-picked opponent in a bout that was not televised, failed to generate the “buzz” the fighter sought.

The next step in Jermain Taylor’s shot at redemption was to have been a televised Oct. 8 fight against Sam Soliman. District Judge Wayne Gruber granted a request that Mr. Taylor be allowed to travel for the fight, but on Friday it was unclear whether the fight would be televised or if it even would happen.

Mr. Taylor had the inner-city equivalent of a hard-scrabble upbringing. He was the oldest child of a single mother in a Little Rock neighborhood dominated by gangs, according to the ESPN piece, where “most of his friends saw four choices for a better life: basketball, football, Crip or Blood.”

When he started boxing at 12, he’d never heard of the Olympics. Ten years later, in 2000, he won a bronze medal at the Olympics.

One did not need to be a student of the sweet science to enjoy watching Mr. Taylor fight when he was so very good. His fights were cinematic thrillers.

People say that Americans love to set people up on pedestals just so they can watch them fall.

The fall certainly seems inexorable. Tell someone he’s the best in the world at what he does, and he begins to believe it. Shower him with rewards - money, cars, jewelry, guns, drugs, women - and he begins to believe he is entitled. Add a little violence to the mix, some career frustrations and maybe some long-term brain injuries, and the collapse is inevitable.

We do not know what happened in Mr. Taylor’s home Tuesday, and we remember that he is innocent until proven guilty. But whatever else comes out of the investigation, we know one young man was seriously injured and the comeback shot at redemption by another likely is derailed.

It is a sorry turn of events.


Texarkana Gazette, Sept, 2, 2014

Central High

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that “separate but equal” public schools were unconstitutional and ordered and end to segregation in schools across the U.S.

In the South there was resistance - often violent resistance. But desegregation also happened peacefully in many Southern cities. There were plenty of city and school officials, as well a ordinary citizens, who knew segregation couldn’t hold out forever. They may not have entirely liked it, but they complied with the law.

That’s pretty much what everybody thought would happen in Little Rock. Arkansas’ capitol city was seen as a moderate Southern metropolis and Gov. Orville Faubus was regarded as more progressive than the firebrand segregationists who dominated states like Mississippi and Alabama.

In 1955, the Little Rock School Board adopted a plan to integrate the city’s schools. It would begin in the fall of 1957, when nine black students would attend all-white Central High. The plan was praised as a model of desegregation.

Then came Sept. 4, 1957 - 57 years ago this week. School was to start that day. Opponents of desegregation came out to protest. And Gov. Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard to keep the nine black students from entering Central High, setting off a crisis that made national headlines, pitted a governor against a president and is still remembered as one of the defining moments of the Civil Rights Movement.

Why did Faubus do it? Most analysts agree it was a political decision. Faubus was facing a tough re-election campaign in 1958 and thought throwing in with the segregationists would give him a better shot..

If so his read was dead on. Though eventually forced to back down on segregation, Faubus continued in the governor’s mansion until 1967.

But no man can stand in the way of time. Arkansas schools were desegregated and Jim Crow laws cast aside. Central High is now a national Historic Landmark and the site of a civil rights museum. And Faubus’ name is synonymous with racial intolerance to many Americans. Pity. If he had only let the school board’s plan take effect, he could have had a much finer legacy.


Harrison Daily Times, Aug. 29, 2014

Don’t use such a broad paint brush

Sometimes, in haste, it’s easy to judge a book by its cover, or even by the title page, before you realize that you’ve made a mistake when you get into the meat of the material.

We can’t help but feel some coverage of recent events surrounding a visit from a delegation from Ghana bears the hallmarks of hasty judgment.

The group was supposed to arrive in Harrison last week and tour a number of facilities. Some of the organizations who had offered tours or free meals wanted to postpone the visit for a year due to the Ebola virus in West Africa, which reduced the amount of activities in which they could have participated. The visit was postponed.

We’re not saying that was the right or wrong decision, but the outcry from other parts of the state skewed the picture of the community as a whole.

The word “hysteria” was bandied about. We think that’s a pretty strong word when we didn’t see anyone running around in a hysterical fashion.

We also saw people from other parts of the state began characterizing the issue as a racial one, and painting the entire community with the same brush. That’s not only unfair, it’s just wrong.

If some people didn’t want to follow through with tours, that was their decision and not ours. But to say the whole city was at fault was a long stretch, especially for a city that’s been battling such an image for a long time.

We hope that other folks might just come see us for a little visit and see what we’re really like instead of passing around what seems almost to be reverse prejudice.

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