Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School

I read Carlotta Walls LaNier's book, "A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School." LaNier is one of the members of the Little Rock Nine, the African American teenagers who courageously integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The Little Rock Nine played a vital part in the civil rights movement in the United States. LaNier was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, and she poignantly recounts the prejudice, hate, torment, and fear of September 1957 when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus used the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the black teenagers from attending school. After three weeks of being denied admittance by segregationists and the power structure of Arkansas, President Eisenhower eventually sent in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne to integrate the school and to enforce the Supreme Court's 1954 decision in "Brown v. Board of Education." Even with the protection of the Army, LaNier and her African American classmates suffered prejudice, hate, abuse, and torment from their white classmates. LaNier's home was bombed during her final semester of high school. To make that terrible act even worse, LaNier's father was considered a suspect in the bombing of his own home by white authorities in Little Rock, and an African American friend of LaNaier's served 18 months in jail for the crime even though there is absolutely no evidence that he was involved. It is likely that white racists were responsible for the bombing, but none were ever charged. LaNier's book is a fascinating first-hand account of an important chapter in United States history. Unfortunately, too few Americans are aware of the prophetic, courageous, and important contributions that the Little Rock Nine made to our society. Grade: 9.

I had the opportunity to meet Ms. LaNier earlier this week when she and other members of the Little Rock Nine visited my Alma Mater, Marquette University, to receive the Pere Marquette Discovery Award. It was fascinating to hear Ms. LaNier and the other members of the Little Rock Nine recount their story. They are true giants in American history. I was fortunate to have Ms. LaNier sign my copy of her book. It was a true honor to meet her and the other members of the Little Rock Nine. A moment that I will always remember.


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