Following the 1954 Brown V. Board of Education Supreme Court decision declaring segregated schools unconstitutional, the NAACP pressed the Little Rock School District to enroll nine black students in the then all-white Central High School.
These are the students that, today, we remember as the Little Rock Nine.
The first attempt by the nine to attend classes was on September 4, 1957. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered the National Guard to block their entry to the school. It took several more weeks and two additional attempts before the Nine were finally able to enroll in the school safely.
This Twitter feed is an account of the last two attempts to desegregate the school. The Content is taken from direct quotes from oral history interviews conducted by students at Central High with the Little Rock Nine.
Carlotta Walls, inspired by leaders such as Rosa Parks, was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine to integrate Central High School in 1957. After graduating from Central in 1960, She went on to attend the University of
Today, Ms. LaNier serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Northern Colorado and as the President of the Little Rock Nine Foundation.
Elizabeth Eckford will forever be remembered for her courage as she faced the mob alone that September morning in front of Little Rock Central High School. Though discouraged by her parents to return back to school, Elizabeth
finished the 1957 school year at Central High and moved to St. Louis to continue her studies after the school closed down.
She received her B.A. in history from Central State University and since has held a variety of public service positions in her hometown of Little Rock. Today, Ms. Eckford strives to continue the fight for social justice by speaking of her past and encouraging young students to join the fight.
Ernest Green became involved in his community from a very young age and was the first African American student to receive his diploma from Little Rock Central High School.
After graduation, Mr. Green went on to earn a B.S. in social Sciences and a masters in sociology, and currently serves as the managing director of public finance of Lehman Brothers. Mr. Green served under the administrations of both President Carter and President Clinton, and has been featured in several historical films, including the most recent “The Ernest Green Story.”
Gloria Ray Kalmark is the youngest daughter of H.C. Ray, founder of the Arkansas Argicultural Extension Service for Negroes and lab assistant to George Washington Carver, and Julia M. Ray, a sociologist who graduated from the
Tuskegee Institute and Philander Smith College. When she refused to withdraw Gloria Ray from the integration efforts at LR Central High, Ms. Julia Ray was fired.
Gloria Ray Kalmark went on to graduate from Kansas City Central High School and the Illinois Institute of Technology. She worked as an assistant mathematician in Boeing in Seattle, McDonnell-Douglas in Santa Monica, and NASA Automation center in St. Louis. She co-founded and served as editor-in-chief at Computers in Industry.
Jefferson Thomas was a soft-spoken, humorous individual who volunteered to integrate Central High School as a sophomore in 1957. After graduating from Central in 1960, he studied at Wayne State University before joining his family
in Los Angeles, CA, in 1961. In 1966, Mr. Thomas was inducted into the US Army where he served as an infantry squad leader in South Vietnam, directing numerous field campaigns.
After returning to civilian life, Mr. Thomas received a bachelor's degree in business administration and served as supervisor for Mobil Oil Corporation while managing his family’s Retail Sales Business. During his life, Dr. Thomas was a frequent speaker at high schools, colleges, and universities across the country and a proud mentor of young people. He passed away in 2010.
Melba Pattillo Beals grew up in a family that valued education. As an adolescent, Dr. Beals knew that the opportunities she had at the all black Horace Mann High School would never equal those of her white peers at Central High,
spurring her to become one of the Little Rock 9. When Central High closed in 1958, Dr. Beals moved to California to continue her studies in journalism.
She received her master's degree from the Columbia University graduate school of Journalism and her doctorate degree from the University of San Francisco. Today, she is Chair of the Communications Department at Dominican University, author of multiple books including the famous Warriors Don’t Cry, and a mother of three children.
Minnijean Brown Trickey is known for her outgoing personality—and assertive spirit—that made her the main object of the segregationist students targeting the Nine. At the end of the semester, this targeting caused her to react, to
be suspended, then to be expelled from Central High School after she retaliated against the verbal and physical harassment during her time at the school. She later studied journalism at Southern Illinois University and received
bachelor and master degrees in social work from Laurentian University and Carleton University, respectively.
She has continued her mission of social justice advocacy and peacemaking, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior under the Clinton administration and teaching social work in colleges across Canada. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her work in social justice and has also been featured in documentaries, magazines, and tv shows. Ms. Brown Trickey currently resides in Canada with her children.
Thelma completed her junior year at LR Central High and later received her diploma from the school after completing her degree through correspondence courses when the school shut down. She later graduated from Southern Illinois
University with a degree in Home Economics Education and a masters in guidance and counseling.
She taught economics for ten years and served as a counselor in elementary career education for eighteen years before retiring in 1994. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to education and community service and now resides in Little Rock.
Terrence Roberts completed his junior year at Central High School then moved with his family to California, where he received a BA in sociology from California State University, a masters in social welfare from the University of
California, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University.
Today he is the CEO of a management consultant firm devoted to fair practice and is a frequent speaker in conferences, colleges, and high schools across the country. He resides in Pasadena, California with his wife and two daughters.