In 1957, the nation turned their attention to nine Black high school students who would be the first to integrate into all White schools after the famous, Brown vs. the Board of Education case that will be discussed in a later article.
When the nine students attempted to attend school as Black, integrating students, the governor of Littlerock, Governor Faubus, sent the National Guard out as an attempt to prevent the Black students from entering Central High School after the NAACP filed a lawsuit.
It took the Federal Court to intervene before Governor Faubus would allow the integration. Federal troops were sent to escort the nine Black students into Central High two weeks after their scheduled date of integration.
While in attendance, the nine students who later became known as, “the Littlerock Nine" were constantly harassed and were not allowed to participate in any extracurricular activities.
In photo’s of the Littlerock nine, even amidst the strongest forms of hate, the essence of courage is embedded in their faces and the spirit of virtue shines outward from within.
The nine ( Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Thelma Mothershed, Gloria Ray, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Melba Patillo, Carlotta Walls, and Minni Jean Brown) became eight when one of the nine students, Minni Jean Brown, refused to tolerate the abuse in silence. Minni Jean was suspended for dropping a bowl of chili on two male White students and then expelled for calling the White girl who hit her, "White-trash."
This article includes a video of actual footage that has embedded.
There is also a video link at the bottom of this article where the Littlerock nine speak for themselves telling the world at a ceremony via Marquette University in 2010 what it was like to be yelled at and to hear of reporters who comforted them being beaten. You will notice the clenching hands of the nine as they recall their traumatic experience.
Here is an additional link that tells the story of Hazel Brown who was the hate filled face behind one of the nine seen in the article picture above with teeth clenched; Brown later sought out Elizabeth, one of the nine, to apologize after years of living as the image of racial hatred seen at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X46XuWzpFgA
Residents of Littlerock voted to close all Littlerock high schools the following year as a method to end the desegregation and the remaining eight students ended up taking what is known as correspondence classes or travel to alternate districts to receive their high school education.
One can only reference such stories and try to imagine exactly how horrific of a time that was. We honor the Littlerock Nine now in Black History Month and forever more for their courage and patience during times of brutal ignorance and extreme hate.
Many dismiss historical events claiming that there is no reason to recall or remember but such stories are not only works in progress but in truth, such times were far too extreme in hate for one to merely brush away as an era.
In 2010, Marquette University honored the Littlerock nine in a ceremony that can be viewed at the following link: http://www.marquette.edu/littlerocknine/live.shtml
The United States has moved further along but still has much progress to make. As one can drive to particular neighborhoods and see the destitute living conditions of oppressed populations, one should understand and acknowledge that such conditions are not just the result of lazy or ignorant people but that such conditions are also planned upon and designed as a measure to maintain an imbalance of Black and White through not so obvious segregation.
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