Friday, January 18, 2008
The courage of the Little Rock Nine
By VICTORIA SMITH
(Victoria Smith was an eighth grader at South Middle School during the 2006-2007 school year.)
A lot of people take simple things for granted. Like getting a drink from the water fountain, or going to the public bathroom, or even going to school. If it wasn’t for events like Plessy vs. Ferguson, Brown vs. Education, and Little Rock Nine, we wouldn’t be able to have an equal education.
Before some of the events happened that I stated above happened everything was suppose to be “equal”, even though the whites had separate bathrooms than the blacks, and different water fountains than the blacks, different waiting rooms, different schools, and different areas of restaurants, mind you all of these things were suppose to be equal but it wasn’t. So here we have Linda Brown, a little black girl from Topeka Kansas, I don’t know what she and her family were complaining about, she only had to walk about a mile to her school, when the white school was only a couple a blocks away. After the Browns and the N.A.A.C.P went to court they passed a law where schools can be segregated, that’s where my topic comes in. (“Crisis in Little Rock Timeline” http://www.facinghistorycampus.org/ctp/ctp.nsf/all%20docs/CTP+Crisis+Timeline?OpenDocument)
Daisy Bates was the president of the Arkansas state conference of the N.A.A.C.P, so she was already trying to integrate the public schools. So after the Brown vs. Board of Education banned school segregation she gathered nine African American students to enroll in the previously all white, Little Rock central High school for the 1957-1958 school year,
And this, my friends, is where the journey begins. (“Daisy Bates “www.nps.gov/archieve/chsc/daisybates.pdf)
The nine African American students that Daisy Bates picked were: Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls Lanier, Minnijean Brown-Trickey. Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed- Wair, and Melba Pattillo Beals. The nine students arrive, to enroll at CHS (central high school) on the second day of school, around September 5th, but they were turned away by the National Guardsmen at the instruction of governor Faubus. That afternoon Federal Judge Davis ordered an investigation by all offices of the Department of Justice to determine who was behind the interference of enrollment. The court ordered the National Guard to keep going with the integration. (www.watson.org)
A third attempt was made, the nine students had tried to attend classes at CHS. For three weeks, the National Guard had kept the students from entering the school, at the orders of Governor Faubus. Then on September 20, the troops were withdrawn by the courts. All was quiet over the weekends at CHS but on Monday September 23, once the nine students stepped on the campus, an uncontrollable violent mob grew very fast in the area around the entrance of the school.
It was so much that the police decided that it would be best that they took out the nine students by 12:00 noon, that same day. The next day President Eisenhower, called the Arkansas National Guard, into active military service to deal with the Little Rock school integration crisis. President Eisenhower also gave the secretary of defense the power to use regular Army troops in addition to the National Guard.
(“Determining the facts”http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/crandall/CRfacts2.htm)
By the end of September 1957, the nine were admitted to Little Rock Central High under the protection of the U.S. Army, but they were still subjected to a year of physical and verbal abuse by many of the white students.
One of the nine, Minnijean Brown seemed to be particularly picked on. In December of 1957, she was verbally confronted by a group of white boys during lunch, they wouldn’t leave her alone, and so in return she dumped a bowl of chili on the ring leader’s head, and was suspended for 6 days. A couple of weeks later, a white girl confronted her and Minnijean couldn’t take it anymore, and she called the white girl white trash. And she was suspended for two more days.
After that last event she was suspended from the whole school and was transferred to New Lincoln High School in New York. None of the white kids got in trouble.
Meanwhile ,some of the other nine weren’t having as many difficulties as Minnijean, like Ernest Green, he was the first African American student to graduate from Little Rock Central High School, paving the way for other black students in the years to come.
(“Little Rock Nine” http://library.thinkquest.org/J0112391/little_rock_nine.htm)
Even though the nine went through an affal lot, like being spat on, verbally abused, being called the infamous “N” word, hearing people yell threats at you like “I gonna hang you, and get all you “Ns” out of my school” and other different violent things, physically abused, and just the fact of knowing that almost everyone at the school HATES your guts.
I imagine that, this would be real hard but they dealt with it and, and continued on.
You, know if it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be going to South Middle School, and I probably wouldn’t have the friends that I have, and I pretty sure that I wouldn’t be trying to hurry up and type this paper trying to get it in before midnight so I can get the extra credit, ANYWAYS, what I am trying to say is that I am really grateful for everything that happened in the civil rights era., because even though the people who stood up for their rights had bad things happen to them, they’ve paved the way for other young black people, like myself, to have a better life, and to have more and better opportunities, and to have a successful life.