Catching up

IMG_7747.JPGThere’s more than 3,000 people in this photo — more than live in a dozen different towns in Washington County and more than twice as many people in my entire high school in Nebraska. They’re having hundreds of conversations and maybe a few arguments. Lots are standing, but some are kneeling. There are kids and parents and cousins and buddies and a whole lot of strangers. Some are Texas State fans, if you can spot the maroon in the sea of crimson. All of that life in a single frame.

IMG_7743.JPGIt’s taken me way too long to have these pictures ready. The two above are from the Sept. 17 Razorback game, my first. It was a good time, though it made me miss Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. Anyway, that’s it for my words this time. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, have some much quieter snapshots of the latest leg of the Razorback Greenway trail.

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Back to School

_C1_7647.JPGI loved lots of things about marching band at the University of Nebraska, but one of the subtler pleasures was moving in a week before almost anyone else for the 14-hour days of band camp. I (goofily) felt like the campus was ours and the rest of the students were intruders, coming too late to know the place as well as we did or to pour as much of themselves into it. But I loved their return anyway, because it also meant returning to great friends I hadn’t seen all summer and soaking up the infectious energy that boomed from the loudspeakers at every pep rally and welcome ceremony.

The excitement’s not really aimed at me these days, but it’s hard to avoid when roughly one-third of Fayetteville’s population learns or works at the University of Arkansas. The 27,000 undergrads are a pain to some and a boon to others, as my colleague Stacy Ryburn cheekily wrote for today’s paper, but you can’t deny they have a good time.

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_C1_7767.JPGGood luck to all of the students, and to the people who have to deal with them. If all goes well, the undergrads will get their names etched into the university’s sidewalks when they graduate, an Arkansas tradition that I caught a glimpse of as I left campus.

Thanks for looking!

Dan

Class of 2016

_C1_4721.JPGGraduation approaches, which means college campuses everywhere are full of people smiling and posing for cameras. Photographers and soon-to-be-grads and family members crisscrossed the University of Arkansas yesterday in such numbers that they had to queue up at the most popular spots. For the first time, I was one of those photogs. A lovely pair of acquaintances, Ashley and Emily, asked me to take their graduation photos. I tried to warn them I’d never done this kind of thing, surely someone with more equipment could do more, but they just wouldn’t listen.

We had a great time.

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We moved to Wilson Park as the afternoon turned into evening. My master plan, timing the shoot so we’d get beautiful, golden sunset light there (like in these shots for another pair of friends), fell apart as the sunny forecast gave way to an overcast sky. So much for that. Still, cloudy skies give their own soft, cool light to work with.

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_C1_4824.JPGNot too bad, I hope — this is just a sample of the final product. We’ll see if anyone ever asks me to do grad photos again.

Congratulations to everyone graduating! Good luck out there.

Dan

Living the Dream

_C1_6474Martin Luther King, Jr. was 26 years old when he helped organize and lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott and brought nonviolence and civil disobedience to the nightly news. He was 34 when he described a dream of racial equality to 250,000 people. He was 35 when the Civil Rights Act outlawed segregation and he marched from Selma. He was 39 when he was shot down.

In other words, he was young. He wasn’t even middle-aged when he built those bridges to a better country.

Yesterday’s march, vigil and banquet in downtown Fayetteville focused on today’s 20- and 30-somethings. The push for social and political equality isn’t over, marchers said again and again, and it’s going to need new Kings. Hundreds of people came out. I wrote about it all for today’s paper.

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_C1_6471I was thrilled for the chance to cover this day — the timing was perfect.

Nationwide protests against the deaths of people of color at the hands of police continue. This year is the 50th anniversary of the push for voting rights in Selma. A movie dramatizing the marches from that Alabama town — and the sometimes deadly police and civilian brutality that met them — is out this month. Marchers of every age and color Monday chatted and laughed together, then joined in hymns and chants that rang out during demonstrations decades ago.

Our history and present feel particularly connected these days. It’s an amazing time for a journalist to dive into these complex, immensely important issues. I was glad to be there, and I hope my story did the day justice.

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_C1_6555The University of Arkansas hosted the post-march vigil, and in a speech there, Arkansas State Rep. Eddie Armstrong of North Little Rock addressed the students directly. He called on them to use their education to keep building those bridges to a better country, as a 26-year-old did a generation ago.

“The leaders of tomorrow are sitting here in this room,” he said. “You have to take charge of the life that’s in front of you, because if you don’t, the bridges stop getting built.”

Thanks for looking,

Dan