Sunday, March 23, 2008

Minniejean Brown Trickey recalls Little Rock Nine

The only member of the Little Rock Nine who did not make it through the 1957-58 school year at Central High School relived her memories of that year in an interview in the March 22 Carleton University newspaper, the Charlatan, in Canada:

“I was 15 and I didn’t know that it was going to be historical. Fifty years later, I find out that it was pivotal American history that really, probably, brought about major change. So, wow, what an honour to be a part of that,” she says.

The nine students tried to enter the school, which was theoretically desegregated after a U.S. Supreme Court decision stated segregated schools were unconstitutional. The students, however, were stopped.

“As we approached the front of the school, soldiers in the Arkansas National Guard closed ranks, standing shoulder to shoulder to block the entrance of the black children and standing aside for the entrance of the white children,” Trickey recalls.

What happened that day was publicized around the world and the black students were dubbed the Little Rock Nine.

“The path to desegregation was raucous and violent, supported by armed soldiers, in plain view for the world to see,” says Trickey.

It was not until two weeks later, after President Dwight W. Eisenhower ordered the National Guard to implement desegregation, that the students returned to school.

Trickey described how the black students were sandwiched between guards and a mob of white people screaming obscenities and death threats.

“The Little Rock desegregation crisis was a pivotal event in United States history which spread to the world, and it had an important twist. That history was made by 14 and 15-year-olds,” she says. “We were not special. We were just kids and we wanted something that was inherently evil to change.”

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