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Saluting Integration's Heroes

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fifty years ago next month, one of the first major school-integration showdowns occurred in Little Rock. Behind it were nine black students, ages 14 to 16, who volunteered to act on the earlier Brown v. Board of Education ruling and enter all-white Central High School; they were met with hate-spewing protesters and a governor intent on keeping them out.

The governor, Orval Faubus, ordered the National Guard to bar their entry, and it took three weeks for the students, called the Little Rock Nine, to finally make it through the front doors -- and then only when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent troops to escort them.

Beginning today, the National Archives celebrates the anniversary of the brave students' act with an exhibition of documents and programming that will continue through next month.

Today, "Fifty Years After Little Rock" will open in the East Rotunda Gallery of the archives. The small collection will feature photos of the students and images that capture their attempts to enter Central High, as well as documentation describing their entry and the acts of hate they continued to endure as they attended the school. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. through Sept. 3; Beginning Sept. 4, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Through Oct. 8.

In conjunction with the opening, the National Archives joins with the Newseum to present a film and discussion tonight. The event, titled "The Media and the Movement," will include screening of a clip from the documentary "The Press and the Civil Rights Movement," after which the film's producer, Frank Bond, will lead a panel discussion. 6:30 p.m. McGowan Theater, Constitution Avenue between Seventh and Ninth streets NW.

And on Sept. 27 (the actual date the students entered Central High with federal escorts), the archives and National Museum of American History will show the 1964 Oscar-winning short-subject documentary "Nine From Little Rock." And after that film, panelists including Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture; and Carlotta Walls LaNier and Ernest Green, two members of the Little Rock Nine, will discuss the film and the era. 7 p.m. McGowan Theater.

All events and exhibitions are free. For information, call 202-357-5000.

Save the Date

[ THE GREAT OUTDOORS ] It's Puppy Love The Humane Society hosts its second Walk for the Animals next month on the Mall, and offering pet owners a chance to walk with their dogs while raising money helps provide services to abused and homeless pets. To sweeten the pot, there'll be a best-dressed canine contest, a dog agility course and live music. $20; $50 for families of four with no more than two members ages 18 or older. Events kick off at 11 a.m. Sept. 23. Sylvan Theater, 15th Street and Independence Avenue SW, near the Washington Monument. Call 202-676-2396 or visit http://www.washhumane.org to register.

[ FOR FAMILIES ] Black Family Reunion Returns The massive reunion, founded by civil rights leader Dorothy Height, fills the Mall next month with pavilions celebrating black cultural contributions, and offering chances to network, eat or just get together and picnic. Every year also brings national music acts: This year, they include the 1990s girl-group sensation En Vogue. Free. Sept. 8-9. The Mall between Seventh and 14th streets NW. 202-737-0120.

[ LECTURES] I Was Friends With One of America's Most Notorious Spies That's just one of the shockers you'll hear from retired FBI supervisory special agent David G. Major, who'll give a talk in November at the International Spy Museum that will effectively dissect his relationship with former FBI agent and spy Robert Hanssen, whom he worked with for nearly 15 years. Major, who is on the museum's board, will offer his take on counterintelligence, Hanssen and what motivated the spy. $23; members, $18. Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW. For tickets, call 202-397-7328; for information, 202-393-7798.

The District

Today

[ CONCERT ] Dirty Trash Synth Psych Garage, in One Tidy Concert Scott Verrastro's shows at his LeDroit Park-area home, which he has dubbed 611 Florida, have the sleepy vibe of a house party, with people filtering in and out, stretched out in pairs on sofas and watching old movies with the volume off. And Verrastro hosts a diverse set of bands; tonight, Blues Control, Pink Reason and Little Claw play psych, synth and noise. $5 suggested donation. 8 p.m. 611 Florida Ave. NW. 202-360-9739.

Tomorrow

[ ON STAGE ] Weed. What's the Problem? Comedian Rob Cantrell heads up this perfectly NORML salute to the sticky-icky, the chronic, ganja, bud, reefer . . . what were we talking about again? Oh, yeah. So, it's the 70th anniversary of the passage of U.S. laws prohibiting recreational marijuana use, and this showcase tomorrow at Riot Act will feature three comics expounding on their hazy days with the stuff. (Cantrell has toured with the show "The Marijuana Logs" in the past.) $17. 9 and 11 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday (but get there way early because the club tends to get crowded). 1610 14th St. NW. 202-625-6229.

[ ON STAGE ] "Love Letters" Annie Potts, the sassy redhead from the always-on-the-tube-somewhere series "Designing Women," is about the biggest star on the local stage at the moment, so we'll take it. Tomorrow and Saturday, she plays an artist whose correspondence with a friend, a lawyer, is traced over 50 years in A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters." $28-$58. 8 p.m. both days. Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW. 202-547-1122.

[ ON STAGE ] D.C. Poetry Festival The festival, which ultimately is a celebration of the talent of the District's U Street corridor, returns to Carter Barron tomorrow night. The featured act at the always-free show will be the Poem-Cees, who have appeared on the HBO series "Def Poetry Jam." Also participating will be popular Baltimore act Fertile Ground, 13 of Nazareth and others. 7-10 p.m. Carter Barron Amphitheatre, 4850 Colorado Ave. NW. 202-889-5000, Ext. 141.

Saturday

[ FILM ] Hong Kong After the Handover You don't have to be a movie buff to be interested in the screening this Saturday at the Freer Gallery -- anyone paying attention to China can't forget its newest acquisition, the long-modern Hong Kong. "Journey to Beijing," showing Saturday, is Evans Chan's documentary about the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong from British control. After the screening, Chan will join a film scholar for a talk about the changes in Hong Kong movies since the handover. Free. 1 p.m. (tickets distributed at noon.) Meyer Auditorium, 12th Street and Jefferson Drive SW. 202-633-4880.

Maryland

Today

[ FILM ] "Brazil" The AFI Silver's summer-long tribute to the '80s delves into less-obvious territory with "Brazil," a comic daydream about an oppressive, Orwellian world mired in bureaucracy and ruled through sinister technology. The 1985 movie -- penned by Tom Stoppard and Terry Gilliam (a Monty Pythoner) -- comes with a fascinating story: The head of Universal Studios pulled the U.S. release of "Brazil" after deeming it too long and, frankly, a downer. Gilliam fought back, holding surreptitious screenings in homes, to which he invited critics, and publicizing the feud in a Variety ad. The buzz became a din, and the movie, which stars Robert De Niro, was finally released. It's at the AFI tonight. $6.75-$9.75. 6:45 p.m. 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. 301-495-6720.

Tomorrow

[ FESTIVALS ] Give It a Whirl: The Maryland State Fair This really large fair kicks off tomorrow and lasts through Sept. 3, with national music acts as well as acres of horse racing, barrel racing, bull riding and, of course, midway rides. It's those darn rides that drain the wallet, so head for one of the discount nights, such as the ride-only "Ridemania" preview tonight from 5 to 11, when admission and all rides cost $15. After that, it's $6; ages 6-11, $3; younger than 6, free. The fair runs 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Rd., Timonium. 410-252-0200, Ext. 227. For parking and discount info, visit http://www.marylandstatefair.com.

[ CONCERT] Saying Goodbye to Chick Hall's Surf Club Perhaps it's a bit premature, since Maryland's original honky-tonk won't close until this fall, but popular local rockabilly act J.P. McDermott and Western Bop is kicking off a series of farewell concerts tomorrow. The club, opened in 1955 by jazz-country guitarist Chick Hall, has over the years hosted greats such as Patsy Cline. $12. 9 p.m. 4711 Kenilworth Ave., Bladensburg. 301-927-6310.

Northern Virginia

Today

[ CONCERT ] The Lunch-Hour Show"Vintage" rock-and-roll outfit Dagmar and the Seductones will regale the lunchtime crowd with bluesy, rootsy sounds in Rosslyn today as part of Arlington's Arts Al Fresco series. Free. 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Metro Park between North Moore and North Lynn streets. 703-228-1850.

Tomorrow

[ CONCERT ] Travis Tritt, Still At It Just a few days after the release of his newest album, "The Storm," the country music star takes the stage at Wolf Trap. But let's come back to the record, which was produced with unstoppable pop producer/"American Idol"-ite Randy Jackson. And the songs? They've also got some unusual sources; one was written with adult-contemporary king Richard Marx, another with Rob Thomas, the bellowing Matchbox Twenty frontman. Hear the tunes for yourself tomorrow. $40; lawn, $22. 7:30 p.m. Wolf Trap Filene Center, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna. 877-965-3872.

Saturday

[ FESTIVALS ] CrystalBlock, the Outdoor Block Party Crystal City's summer festival on 23rd Street spotlights the thoroughfare's restaurants and open spaces with music from the Johnny Artis Band, Mary Ann Redmond and the Niki Barr Band, 1-6 p.m., 23rd Street between South Eads and South Fern streets. For us, though, the real highlight is watching the district shutter Crystal Drive and turn it into a faux boardwalk, with room for rollerbladers, roller-skaters, bikers and skateboarders to roll through. 8 a.m.-noon, between 15th and 23rd streets, Arlington. Both events are free. 703-412-9430.

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