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Little Rock 9 Bibliography

The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation.[1] After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas, the Little Rock School Board agreed to comply with the high court's ruling. Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957.

By 1957, the NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance.[2] Called the "Little Rock Nine", they were Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942), Thelma Mothershed (b. 1940), and Melba Pattillo Beals (b. 1941). Ernest Green was the first African American to graduate from Central High School.

The Blossom Plan

One of the plans created during attempts to desegregate the schools of Little Rock was by school superintendent Virgil Blossom. The initial approach proposed substantial integration beginning quickly and extending to all grades within a matter of many years.[3] This original proposal was scrapped and replaced with one that more closely met a set of minimum standards worked out in attorney Richard B. McCulloch's brief.[4] This finalized plan would start in September 1957 and would integrate one high school, Little Rock Central. The second phase of the plan would take place in 1960 and would open up a few junior high schools to a few black children. The final stage would involve limited desegregation of the city's grade schools at an unspecified time, possibly as late as 1963.[4]

This plan was met with varied reactions from the NAACP branch of Little Rock. Militant members like the Bateses opposed the plan on the grounds that it was "vague, indefinite, slow-moving and indicative of an intent to stall further on public integration."[5] Despite this view, the majority accepted the plan; most felt that Blossom and the school board should have the chance to prove themselves, that the plan was reasonable, and that the white community would accept it.

This view was short lived, however. Changes were made to the plan, the most detrimental being a new transfer system that would allow students to move out of the attendance zone to which they were assigned.[5] The unaltered Blossom Plan had gerrymandered school districts to guarantee a black majority at Horace Mann High and a white majority at Hall High.[5] This meant that, even though black students lived closer to Central, they would be placed in Horace Mann thus confirming the intention of the school board to limit the impact of desegregation.[5] The altered plan gave white students the choice of not attending Horace Mann, but didn't give black students the option of attending Hall. This new Blossom Plan did not sit well with the NAACP and after failed negotiations with the school board; the NAACP filed a lawsuit on February 8, 1956.

This lawsuit, along with a number of other factors contributed to the Little Rock School Crisis of 1957.

National Guard blockade

Main article: Arkansas National Guard and the integration of Central High School

Several segregationist councils threatened to hold protests at Central High and physically block the black students from entering the school. Governor Orval Faubus deployed the Arkansas National Guard to support the segregationists on September 4, 1957. The sight of a line of soldiers blocking out the students made national headlines and polarized the nation. Regarding the accompanying crowd, one of the nine students, Elizabeth Eckford, recalled:

They moved closer and closer. ... Somebody started yelling. ... I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd—someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.[6]

On September 9, the Little Rock School District issued a statement condemning the governor's deployment of soldiers to the school, and called for a citywide prayer service on September 12. Even President Dwight Eisenhower attempted to de-escalate the situation by summoning Faubus for a meeting, warning him not to defy the Supreme Court's ruling.[7]

Armed escort

Woodrow Wilson Mann, the mayor of Little Rock, asked President Eisenhower to send federal troops to enforce integration and protect the nine students. On September 24, the President ordered the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army—without its black soldiers, who rejoined the division a month later—to Little Rock and federalized the entire 10,000-member Arkansas National Guard, taking it out of Faubus's control.[8]

A tense year

By the end of September 1957, the nine were admitted to Little Rock Central High under the protection of the 101st Airborne Division (and later the Arkansas National Guard), but they were still subjected to a year of physical and verbal abuse (being spat on and called names) by many of the white students. Melba Pattillo had acid thrown into her eyes[9] and also recalled in her book, Warriors Don't Cry, an incident in which a group of white girls trapped her in a stall in the girls' washroom and attempted to burn her by dropping pieces of flaming paper on her from above. Another one of the students, Minnijean Brown, was verbally confronted and abused. She said

I was one of the kids 'approved' by the school officials. We were told we would have to take a lot and were warned not to fight back if anything happened. One girl ran up to me and said, 'I'm so glad you're here. Won't you go to lunch with me today?' I never saw her again.[10]

Minnijean Brown was also taunted by members of a group of white male students in December 1957 in the school cafeteria during lunch. She dropped her lunch, a bowl of chili, onto the boys and was suspended for six days. Two months later, after more confrontation, Brown was suspended for the rest of the school year. She transferred to New Lincoln High School in New York City.[2] As depicted in the 1981 made-for-TV docudrama Crisis at Central High, and as mentioned by Melba Pattillo Beals in Warriors Don't Cry, white students were punished only when their offense was "both egregious and witnessed by an adult".[11] The drama was based on a book by Elizabeth Huckaby, a vice-principal during the crisis.

"The Lost Year"

In the summer of 1958, as the school year was drawing to a close, Faubus decided to petition the decision by the Federal District Court in order to postpone the desegregation of public high schools in Little Rock.[12] In the Cooper v. Aaron case, the Little Rock School District, under the leadership of Orval Faubus, fought for a two and a half year delay on de-segregation, which would have meant that black students would only be permitted into public high schools in January 1961.[13] Faubus argued that if the schools remained integrated there would be an increase in violence. However, in August 1958, the Federal Courts ruled against the delay of de-segregation, which incited Faubus to call together an Extraordinary Session of the State Legislature on August 26 in order to enact his segregation bills.[14]

Claiming that Little Rock had to assert their rights and freedom against the federal decision, in September 1958, Faubus signed acts that enabled him and the Little Rock School District to close all public schools.[15] Thus, with this bill signed, on Monday September 15, Faubus ordered the closure of all four public high schools, preventing both black and white students from attending school.[16] Despite Faubus's decree, the city's population had the chance of refuting the bill since the school-closing law necessitated a referendum. The referendum, which would either condone or condemn Faubus's law, was to take place within thirty days.[16] A week before the referendum, which was scheduled to take place on September 27, Faubus addressed the citizens of Little Rock in an attempt to secure their votes. Faubus urged the population to vote against integration since he was planning on leasing the public school buildings to private schools, and, in doing so, would educate the white and black students separately.[17] Faubus was successful in his appeal and won the referendum. This year came to be known as the "Lost Year."

Faubus's victory led to a series of consequences that affected Little Rock society. Faubus's intention to open private schools was denied[clarification needed] the same day the referendum took place, which caused some citizens of Little Rock to turn on the black community. The black community became a target for hate crimes since people blamed them for the closing of the schools.[18]Daisy Bates, head of the NAACP chapter in Little Rock, was a primary victim to these crimes, in addition to the black students enrolled at Little Rock Central High School and their families.[19]

The city's teachers were also placed in a difficult position. They were forced to swear loyalty to Faubus's bills.[16] Even though Faubus's idea of private schools never played out, the teachers were still expected to attend school every day and prepare for the possibility of their students' return.[20] The teachers were completely under Faubus's control and the many months that the school stayed empty only served as a cause for uncertainty in their professional futures.[21]

In May 1959, after the firing of forty-four teachers and administrative staff from the four high schools, three segregationist board members were replaced with three moderate ones. The new board members reinstated the forty-four staff members to their positions.[22] The new board of directors then began an attempt to reopen the schools, much to Faubus's dismay. In order to avoid any further complications, the public high schools were scheduled to open earlier than usual, on August 12, 1959.[22]

Although the Lost Year had come to a close, the black students who returned to the high schools were not welcomed by the other students. Rather, the black students had a difficult time getting past mobs to enter the school, and, once inside, they were often subject to physical and emotional abuse.[23] The students were back at school and everything would eventually resume normal function, but the Lost Year would be a pretext for new hatred toward the black students in the public high school.


Faubus's opposition to desegregation was likely both politically and racially motivated.[24] Although Faubus had indicated that he would consider bringing Arkansas into compliance with the high court's decision in 1956, desegregation was opposed by his own southern Democratic Party, which dominated all Southern politics at the time. Faubus risked losing political support in the upcoming 1958 Democratic gubernatorial primary if he showed support for integration.[25]

Most histories of the crisis conclude that Faubus, facing pressure as he campaigned for a third term, decided to appease racist elements in the state by calling out the National Guard to prevent the black students from entering Central High. Former associate justice of the Arkansas Supreme CourtJames D. Johnson claimed to have hoaxed Governor Faubus into calling out the National Guard, supposedly to prevent a white mob from stopping the integration of Little Rock Central High School: "There wasn't any caravan. But we made Orval believe it. We said. 'They're lining up. They're coming in droves.' ... The only weapon we had was to leave the impression that the sky was going to fall." He later claimed that Faubus asked him to raise a mob to justify his actions.[26]

Harry Ashmore, the editor of the Arkansas Gazette, won a 1958 Pulitzer Prize for his editorials on the crisis. Ashmore portrayed the fight over Central High as a crisis manufactured by Faubus; in his interpretation, Faubus used the Arkansas National Guard to keep black children out of Central High School because he was frustrated by the success his political opponents were having in using segregationist rhetoric to stir white voters.[27]

Congressman Brooks Hays, who tried to mediate between the federal government and Faubus, was later defeated by a last minute write-in candidate, Dale Alford, a member of the Little Rock School Board who had the backing of Faubus's allies.[28][self-published source] A few years later, despite the incident with the "Little Rock Nine", Faubus ran as a moderate segregationist against Dale Alford, who was challenging Faubus for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1962.


Little Rock Central High School still functions as part of the Little Rock School District, and is now a National Historic Site that houses a Civil Rights Museum, administered in partnership with the National Park Service, to commemorate the events of 1957.[29] The Daisy Bates House, home to Daisy Bates, then the president of the Arkansas NAACP and a focal point for the students, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001 for its role in the episode.[30]

In 1958, Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén published "Little Rock", a bilingual composition in English and Spanish denouncing the racial segregation in the United States.[31]

Melba Pattillo Beals wrote a memoir titled Warriors Don't Cry, published in the mid-1990s.

Two made-for-television movies have depicted the events of the crisis: the 1981 CBS movie Crisis at Central High, and the 1993 Disney Channel movie The Ernest Green Story.

In 1996, seven of the Little Rock Nine appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. They came face to face with a few of the white students who had tormented them as well as one student who had befriended them.

President Bill Clinton honored the Little Rock Nine in November 1999 when he presented them each with a Congressional Gold Medal. The medal is the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress.[32] It is given to those who have provided outstanding service to the country. To receive the Congressional Gold Medal, recipients must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of both the House and Senate.

In 2007, the United States Mint made available a commemorative silver dollar to "recognize and pay tribute to the strength, the determination and the courage displayed by African-American high school students in the fall of 1957." The obverse depicts students accompanied by a soldier, with nine stars symbolizing the Little Rock Nine. The reverse depicts an image of Little Rock Central High School, c. 1957. Proceeds from the coin sales are to be used to improve the National Historic Site.

On December 9, 2008, the Little Rock Nine were invited to attend the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, the first African-American to be elected President of the United States.[33]

On February 9, 2010, Marquette University honored the group by presenting them with the Père Marquette Discovery Award, the university's highest honor, one that had previously been given to Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Karl Rahner, and the Apollo 11 astronauts, among other notables.

See also

  1. ^Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (U.S. 1954). Text.
  2. ^ abRains, Craig. "Little Rock Central High 40th Anniversary". Archived from the original on December 17, 2006. .
  3. ^Tony A. Freyer, "Politics and Law in the Little Rock Crisis, 1954–1957," The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 60/2, (Summer 2007): 148
  4. ^ abTony A. Freyer, "Politics and Law in the Little Rock Crisis, 1954–1957," The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 60/2, (Summer 2007): 149
  5. ^ abcdJohn A. Kirk, "The Little Rock Crisis and Postwar Black Activism in Arkansas," The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 60/2, (Summer 2007): 239
  6. ^Boyd, Herb (September 27, 2007). "Little Rock Nine paved the way". New York Amsterdam News. 98 (40). Retrieved March 4, 2009. 
  7. ^"Retreat from Newport". Time. September 23, 1957. .
  8. ^Smith, Jean Edward (2012). Eisenhower in War and Peace. Random House. p. 723. ISBN 978-0-679-64429-3. 
  9. ^"Melba Pattillo Beals". Teachers' Domain. WGBH Educational Foundation. Retrieved February 2, 2008. 
  10. ^Brown, Minnijean; Moskin, J. Robert (June 24, 1958). "One Girl's Little Rock Story". Look. 
  11. ^Collins, Janelle (Fall 2008). "Easing a Country's Conscience: Little Rock's Central High School in Film". The Southern Quarterly. The University of Southern Mississippi. Retrieved August 2, 2009. [dead link]
  12. ^Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir. New York: David McKay, 1962, p. 151.
  13. ^Gordy, Sondra. "Empty Hearts: Little Rock Secondary Teachers, 1958–1959". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 1997, p. 428.
  14. ^Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir. New York: David McKay, 1962, p. 152.
  15. ^Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir. New York: David McKay, 1962, p. 154.
  16. ^ abcGordy, Sondra. "Empty Hearts: Little Rock Secondary Teachers, 1958–1959". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 1997, p. 429.
  17. ^Gordy, Sondra. "Empty Hearts: Little Rock Secondary Teachers, 1958–1959". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 1997, p. 431.
  18. ^Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir. New York: David McKay, 1962, p. 155.
  19. ^Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir. New York: David McKay, 1962. p. 159.
  20. ^Gordy, Sondra. "Empty Hearts: Little Rock Secondary Teachers, 1958–1959". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 1997, p. 436.
  21. ^Gordy, Sondra. "Empty Hearts: Little Rock Secondary Teachers, 1958–1959". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 1997, p. 441.
  22. ^ abGordy, Sondra. "Empty Hearts: Little Rock Secondary Teachers, 1958–1959". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 1997, p. 442.
  23. ^Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir. New York: David McKay, 1962, p. 165.
  24. ^"Little Rock Nine". Originalpeople. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  25. ^Williams, Juan (March 18, 2007). "Showdown over Segregation". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  26. ^"Racist "Justice" is dead, but not gone". Salon. February 18, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  27. ^"The Pulitzer Prize Winners 1958". the Pulitzer Board. Retrieved September 7, 2011. 
  28. ^Profiles in Hue. Xlibris Corporation. January 17, 2011. p. 366. ISBN 1456851209. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  29. ^United States National Park Service, Little Rock Central High School, National Historic Site.
  30. ^"NHL nomination for Daisy Bates House"(PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved October 27, 2014. 
  31. ^Guillén, Nicolás; Márquez, Robert; McMurray, David Arthur (August 2003). Man-making words: selected poems of Nicolás Guillén. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 58–61. ISBN 978-1-55849-410-7. Retrieved September 7, 2011. 
  32. ^"Little Rock Nine". November 9, 1999. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  33. ^"We've Completed Our Mission". Washington Post, December 13, 2009, p. B01.


  • Anderson, Karen. Little Rock: Race and Resistance at Central High School (2013)
  • Baer, Frances Lisa. Resistance to Public School Desegregation: Little Rock, Arkansas, and Beyond (2008) 328 pp. ISBN 978-1-59332-260-1
  • Beals, Melba Pattillo. Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High. (ISBN 0-671-86638-9)
  • Branton, Wiley A. "Little Rock Revisited: Desegregation to Resegregation." Journal of Negro Education 1983 52(3): 250–269. ISSN 0022-2984Fulltext in Jstor
  • Jacoway, Elizabeth. Turn Away Thy Son: Little Rock, the Crisis That Shocked the Nation (2007).
  • Kirk, John A. "Not Quite Black and White: School Desegregation in Arkansas, 1954-1966," Arkansas Historical Quarterly (2011) 70#3 pp 225–257 in JSTOR
  • Kirk, John A., ed. An Epitaph for Little Rock: A Fiftieth Anniversary Retrospective on the Central High Crisis (University of Arkansas Press, 2008).
  • Kirk, John A. Beyond Little Rock: The Origins and Legacies of the Central High Crisis (University of Arkansas Press, 2007).
  • Kirk, John A., Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940–1970 (University of Florida Press, 2002).
  • Reed, Roy. Faubus: The Life and Times of an American Prodigal (1997).
  • Lanier, Carlotta, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School, Random House, 2009


  • Pierce, Michael. "Historians of the Central High Crisis and Little Rock's Working-Class Whites: A Review Essay," Arkansas Historical Quarterly (2011) 70#4 pp. 468–483 in JSTOR

Primary sources

  • Faubus, Orval Eugene. Down from the Hills. Little Rock: Democrat Printing & Lithographing, 1980. 510 pp. autobiography.

External links

  • "Through a Lens, Darkly," by David Margolick. Vanity Fair, September 24, 2007.
  • The Tiger, Student Paper of Little Rock Central High.
  • The Legacy of Little Rock on Time.com (a division of Time Magazine)
  • Guardians of Freedom—50th Anniversary of Operation Arkansas, by United States Army
  • Letters from U.S. citizens regarding the Little Rock Crisis, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
  • Documents regarding the Little Rock Crisis, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
  • National Park Service. Little Rock Central High School, National Historic Site.
  • Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture entry: Little Rock Nine
  • "From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans", a National Park ServiceTeaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan
  • Letter by segregationist lawyer Amis Guthridge Defending Segregation to Little Rock School Board and Superintendent Blossom, July 10, 1957.
  • McMillen, Neil R. (Summer 1971). "White Citizens' Council and Resistance to School Desegregation in Arkansas"(PDF). The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. Arkansas Historical Association. 30 (2): 95–122. 
  • Sandra Hubbard; Dr. Sondra Gordy. "The Lost Year".  a documentary, entitled "The Lost Year" by Sandra Hubbard and a book, entitled "Finding the Lost Year" By Dr. Gordy. An account by teachers and classmates of the closed high schools of Little Rock after the Crisis at Central High and the Little Rock Nine.
Young U.S. Army paratrooper in battle gear outside Central High School, on the cover of Time magazine (October 7, 1957)
Little Rock Nine Memorial
Memorial closeup of Eckford
A commemorative silver dollar
Three members of the “Little Rock Nine” (L-R) Ernest Green, Carlotta Walls LaNier, and Terrence Roberts - stand together on the steps of the LBJ Presidential Library in 2014
Little Rock Nine Foundation

Melba Pattillo Beals recounted her experience at Central High School in her award winning book Warriors Don’t Cry:  A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School.

Dr. Beals grew up surrounded by family members who knew the importance of education.  Her mother, Lois, was one of the first African Americans to graduate from the University of Arkansas in 1954.   While attending all-black Horace Mann High School, Dr. Beals knew her educational opportunities were not equal to her white counterparts’ at Central High, leading her to be a part of the effort to integrate that school.  She recalled that the soldier assigned to protect her instructed her that “In order to get through this year, you will have to become a soldier.  Never let your enemy know what you are feeling.”  She took the soldier’s advice, finishing the school year.  Barred from returning to Central the following year when the city’s schools were closed, Dr. Beals moved to Santa Rosa, California, to live with a sponsoring family, Dr.  & Mrs. George McCabe, who were members of the NAACP, for her senior year of high school. 

Dr. Beals graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in journalism, and earned an MA from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, in New York, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of San Francisco.  She has worked as a reporter for San Francisco’s public television station and for the Bay area’s NBC affiliate.  She has written numerous articles for periodicals including People, Essence and the San Francisco Examiner.  In addition, Dr. Beals is the author of White is a State of Mind, a sequel to Warriors Don’ Cry.   

Dr. Beals is a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, and she is a much sought after communications consultant and motivational speaker. Dr. Beals is Chair of the Communications Department at Dominican University, in San Rafael, California.

Dr. Beals is the mother of 16-year-old identical twins, Evan and Matthew Pattillo, and an adult daughter, Kellie, a doctoral candidate in psychology.  Dr. Beals and her children live in the San Francisco Bay Area.


In 1957, at age 14, Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest Little Rock Nine member to integrate Central High School.  This act of courage and defiance became the catalyst for change in the American educational system.  By ushering in a new order, she and her fellow warriors became ‘foot soldiers’ for freedom.

Despite her youth, Mrs. LaNier understood the impact of education in a promising future. Inspired by Rosa Parks and the desire to get the best education available, she enrolled in Central High School.  Anger and violent behavior threatened their safety and motivated President Dwight D. Eisenhower to dispatch the Army’s 101st Airborne Division to protect their constitutional rights. She graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1960 and attended Michigan State University for two years.  In 1968, she graduated from the University of Northern Colorado.

Mrs. LaNier is an active supporter of her community, serving on the Board of Trustees for the University of Northern Colorado and Iliff School of Theology.  She also serves as president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation and is a member of the Denver Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and the Johnson Legacy, Inc. Board of Directors.

In addition to the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, awarded to her as a member of the Little Rock Nine, Mrs. LaNier is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Northern Colorado and an inductee in the Colorado Woman’s Hall of Fame, the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction and the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Mrs. LaNier has pursued a successful career as a real estate broker for more than 30 years and currently operates, with son Whitney, her own company.  In addition to her son, she and husband, Ira, have an adult daughter, Brooke.


After 50 years, the most dramatic images of the 1957 crisis at Little Rock Central High School remain those of 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford, being taunted as she walked through a hate-filled mob, on her way to school.  Today, Ms. Eckford recalls how difficult it was for her parents, Oscar and Birdie, to allow her to continue the struggle to integrate the Little Rock schools.

Because all of the city’s high schools closed her senior year, Ms. Eckford moved to St Louis, where she obtained her GED. She attended Knox College in Illinois, and received her BA in History from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.  While in college, Ms. Eckford became one of the first African Americans to work in a local St. Louis bank, in a non-janitorial position, and later she worked as a substitute teacher, in Little Rock public schools.

Ms. Eckford, a veteran of the U.S. Army, has also worked as a substitute teacher in Little Rock public schools, test administrator, unemployment interviewer, waitress, welfare worker, and military reporter.  Along with her fellow Little Rock Nine members, she is a recipient of the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal.  Together with one of her former tormenters, Ms. Eckford also received a Humanitarian award, presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), following their meeting 34 years after an apology.  The award recognizes forgiveness and atonement.  They talked to students for two years, and, together, attended a 12-week racial healing course.

Ms. Eckford has started to walk through the painful past in sharing some of her story.  She has said that true reconciliation can occur if we honestly look back on our shared history. She believes that the lessons learned from Little Rock Central High School must continue to be shared with new generations, reminding audiences that “the dead can be buried, but not the past.”  Ms. Eckford continues her interest in education by sharing her story with school groups, and challenges students to be active participants in confronting justice, rather than being passive observers.  

Ms. Eckford lives in Little Rock, and is a probation officer for the First Division Circuit Court of Pulaski County.


Ernest G. Green is the Managing Director of Public Finance for Lehman Brothers in Washington, D.C.  Featured in the 2006 list of Black Enterprise Magazine’s “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street”, Mr. Green has served as senior investment banker on transactions for such key clients as the City of New York, State of New York, City of Chicago, Port of Oakland, City of Atlanta, State of Connecticut, Detroit Wayne County Airport, Denver Airport, and the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority.         

Mr. Green served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training during the Carter Administration.  President Clinton appointed him to serve as Chairman of the African Development Foundation.  Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley, appointed him Chairman of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Advisory Board.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 22, 1941, Mr. Green was the first African American to earn his high school diploma from Central High School. At the age of seventeen he was awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, as one of the Little Rock Nine. In 1995, he was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.  Mr. Green is also a recipient of the Urban League’s Frederick Douglass Freedom Medal, and the John D. Rockefeller Public Service Award. On November 9, 1999, with the Little Rock Nine, he was presented by President Clinton with the Congressional Gold Medal.  

Several books, movies and documentaries have chronicled Mr. Green and his eight classmates’ historic year at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas -- the most recent being the “Ernest Green Story”, produced and distributed by the Walt Disney Corporation. 

Mr. Green holds a B.S. in Social Science and Masters in Sociology from Michigan State University, and honorary doctorates from Michigan State University, Tougaloo College, and Central State University.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Fisk University, Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network, Clark Atlanta University Board of Trustees and the African American Experience Fund Board of Trustees among other distinctions. 

Mr. Green and his wife Phyllis live in Washington, D. C.  He is the proud father of Adam, Jessica and McKenzie Ann.


Gloria Ray Karlmark is the youngest daughter of H. C. Ray, son of a former slave, and founder of the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service for Negroes, and Julia M. Ray, a Sociologist and a graduate of Tuskegee Institute and Philander Smith College. Mrs. Karlmark’s father was Laboratory Assistant to George Washington Carver, and received his degree in Horticulture under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute.  Mrs. Karlmark’s mother was fired when she refused to withdraw her from Little Rock Central High School in 1957-1958.  When Central High School remained closed, on an order from Governor Faubus the following year, Mrs. Karlmark moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she graduated in 1960 from the newly integrated Kansas City Central High School.

Mrs. Karlmark went on to graduate from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago, after which she joined the IIT Research Institute as Assistant Mathematician on the APT IV Project (robotics, numerical control, and online technical documentation).  This included work at Boeing in Seattle, McDonnell-Douglas in Santa Monica, and NASA Automation center in St. Louis.

In 1969, she and her husband took a sabbatical year following the trail of the Maya Indians from Mexico through Central America by car.  Soon after, they immigrated to Sweden.  In the years that followed, the Karlmark family was blessed with a son and a daughter.

Recruited to join IBM’s Nordic Laboratory, Mrs. Karlmark completed the Svenska Patent och Registreringsverket “Patent Examiner” Program in 1975, and joined IBM’s International Patent Operations as European Patent Attorney.

In 1976, she co-founded Computers in Industry, and international journal of practice and experience of computer applications in industry affiliated with UNESCO and the International Federation of Information Processing-IFIP.  She served some 15 years as Editor-in-Chief.

In the years leading up to her retirement in 1994, Mrs. Karlmark also worked for Philips International in management as a specialist in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, and Scotland.  She and her family currently reside in Europe.


Jefferson Thomas was a track athlete at all-black Dunbar Junior High School in Little Rock when he volunteered to integrate all-white Central High School as a sophomore in 1957.

Mr. Thomas was a quiet, soft spoken, unique, and special person.  He had a subtle, infectious sense of humor that served him well throughout his life.  He would find that sense of humor and his LOVE for humanity severely tested by the hate and violence directed toward him by some of the white students at Central High School.  Mr. Thomas graduated from Central High School in May 1960, and entered Wayne State University in Detroit, as his family relocated to Southern California. 

In mid-1961, Mr. Thomas joined his family in Los Angeles, California.  There he quickly became active in the NAACP Youth Council as Treasurer, and served as State President of the Progressive Baptist Youth Convention.  He attended Los Angeles State College, joined the Student Government, and was elected President of the Associated Engineers.

Mr. Thomas married in 1965 and has one child (Jefferson, Jr.), still living in Los Angeles.  Mr. Thomas, Sr. was inducted into the United States Army in 1966.  He received training at Fort Riley, Kansas, and was promoted to staff sergeant, before being assigned to duty in South Vietnam, with the 9th Infantry Division.  There he served as an infantry squad leader (NCO), and directed numerous field campaigns as they confronted enemy troops.  He returned to civilian life in the summer of 1968. 

With his father, Mr. Thomas operated the family-owned Retail Sales Business, and attended Los Angeles State College to obtain a Bachelor Degree of Business Administration.  Mr. Thomas went to work as an Accounting Clerk and later, Supervisor for Mobil Oil Corporation - Los Angeles Credit Card Center, while still managing the family business.

When Mobil Oil moved its Credit Card Operations to Kansas City, MO, in 1978, Mr. Thomas remained in Los Angeles, and entered Federal Service as an Accounting Clerk with the Department of Defense.  The DOD relocated parts of its LA operations to Columbus, Ohio, in 1989.  He sold his business and moved to Columbus. 

After moving to Columbus, Mr. Thomas served as a member on the Board of Directors for the City of Refuge Learning Academy and the First Church of God Day Care Center.  As a part of his continued commitment to serve the local community, Mr. Thomas took time to serve as a volunteer mentor in the Village to Child Program, co-sponsored by Ohio Dominican University.  Mr. Thomas is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Ohio Dominican University in recognition of his life-long efforts in human rights and equality

Dr. Thomas is a frequent speaker at numerous high schools, colleges and universities throughout the country, and he is an eager mentor to young people.  He is the recipient of numerous awards from local and federal governmental agencies.  These awards include the NAACP Spingarn Medal, and Congressional Gold Medal, this Nation’s longest-running tradition of honor, for helping make democracy work.  He is especially proud of the life-size sculpture of the Little Rock Nine at the Arkansas State Capital in Little Rock, the first in the state honoring living citizens.

Dr. Thomas retired in September 2004, after 27 years of Federal Service. Dr. Thomas has departed this life and his wife, Mary, still resides in Columbus, Ohio.


Although all of the Nine experienced verbal and physical harassment during their year at Central, Brown was first suspended, and then expelled for retaliating against the daily torment. She moved to New York and lived with Drs. Kenneth B. And Mamie Clark, the African American psychologists whose social science findings played a critical role in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. 

After graduating from the New Lincoln School in 1959, Mrs. Brown Trickey studied journalism at Southern Illinois University.  She received a Bachelor of Social Work in Native Human Services from Laurentian University and Master of Social Work at Carleton University, in Ontario Canada.

Mrs. Brown Trickey has pursued a career committed to peacemaking, environmental issues, developing youth leadership and social justice advocacy.  She served in the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior.   She has taught social work at Carleton University and community colleges in Canada. 

Mrs. Brown Trickey is the recipient of numerous awards for her community work for social justice, including Lifetime Achievement Tribute by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and the International Wolf Award for contributions to racial harmony.  With the Little Rock Nine, she received the NAACP Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal.

She is the subject of a documentary, Journey to Little Rock: the Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey, which has received critical acclaim in international film festivals in Africa, the UK, the U.S., South America and Canada.  She was featured in People Magazine, Newsweek, the Ottawa Citizen, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, Donahue, as well as on numerous other television, radio and in print media.  She appeared with the Little Rock Nine on Oprah and the Today Show.

Ms. Brown Trickey currently resides in Canada, and is the Shipley Visiting Writer for Heritage Studies at Arkansas State University. She is the mother of six children, Morning Star, Isaiah, Sol, Ethan, Spirit and Leila Trickey.


Terrence J. Roberts was a 15 year old junior when he entered Little Rock Central High school.  Despite the daily harassment, he completed his junior year, but moved with his family to Los Angeles the following year and graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1959.

Dr. Roberts received a BA in sociology from California State University at Los Angles in 1967.  This was followed by an MS in social welfare in 1970 from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1970 and a Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University in 1976. 

Dr. Roberts is CEO of Terrence J. Roberts & Associates, a management consultant firm devoted to fair and equitable practices.  A much sought after speaker and presenter, Dr. Roberts maintains a private psychology practice and lectures and presents workshops and seminars on a wide variety of topics.

Dr. Roberts is the recipient of the Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal.  He serves on the boards of the Economic Resources Center in Southern California, the Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, and the Little Rock Nine Foundation.

Dr. Roberts and his wife Rita are the parents of two adult daughters and live in Pasadena, California.


A native of Bloomberg, Texas, Thelma Mothershed Wair attended Dunbar Junior High School and Horace Mann High School, before transferring to Central High School.  Despite the tumultuous experience of her junior year at Central High, she completed her course work successfully.  After the city’s high schools were closed the following year, Mrs. Wair earned the necessary credits for graduation through correspondence courses, and by attending summer school in St. Louis, Missouri.  She received her diploma from Central High School by mail.

Mrs. Wair graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1964, earning a degree in Home Economics Education.  She earned her Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling, as well as an Administrative Certificate in Education from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.  She worked in the East St. Louis school system for 28 years, including 10 as a Home Economics teacher, and 18 as a counselor for elementary career education, before retiring in 1994.  Mrs. Wair has also worked at the St. Clair County Jail, Juvenile Detention Center in St. Clair County, Illinois, and was an instructor of survival skills for women at the American Red Cross Shelter for the homeless. 

In addition to the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, Mrs. Wair received numerous awards for her professional contributions and community service, including Outstanding Role Model by the East St. Louis Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction, and the Early Childhood Pre-Kindergarten staff of her district in East St. Louis., among others.

Mrs. Wair currently resides in Little Rock.  She and her late husband Fred have one son, Scott, and two grandchildren, Brennan Dallas and Gabriel Scott.

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