A Revolutionary Foundation


Little Rock Central High School has always been an important place in my family history. My mom graduated from Central, my grandparents started dating at Central, and my great-grandfather was the first black principal at Central. Edwin L. Hawkins Sr. was principal from 1971 to 1974. 

He was always an educator, previously principal at Horace Mann and Dunbar. He believed in the real value of education, and where it could take people. I can’t imagine being the principal of a school as large as Central, and being black on top of that. I’m sure he faced challenges. I’m sure he had his doubts. I’m also sure that Central would not be the school it is today without him. For my great-grandfather to stand in the face of discrimination on top of administrative duties, I know he believed in Central. I know he believed in school, in education, in teachers and counselors and aides that mold students into scholars. 

Stories I heard about him growing up include his favorite phrase to say to students, “I challenge you.” There is a scholarship available for seniors at Central called the I Challenge You Scholarship for this very reason. Although I never met my great-grandfather, and my mother was too young when he died to remember specifics, I believe his memory lives on. His memory lives on in my mother, who is a teacher and lover of all things education. His memory lives on in Central–in the school where he broke the glass ceiling and left his mark. And his memory lives on in students. Students who need a little push, a challenge, or an example of what can be done when you decide to fight against obstacles to get to where you were called to be. These are the students who carry his legacy, what he stood for. 

As I look at Central now, I carry a different view. Yes, it is the place that holds a lot of my family’s history. It serves that purpose for a lot of families. Now though, I see a legacy. A legacy of greatness and a legacy that could use some changes. I thank Edwin Luther Hawkins for his revolutionary contribution. And I look forward to all the new revolutionaries that I know will come out of Little Rock Central High School.