Thursday, February 10, 2011

Little Rock Nine didn't realize they were making history, speaker says

The youngest of the Little Rock Nine spoke about one of the most important events in the Civil Rights Movement at the University of Illinois Springfield on Wednesday.

Carlotta Walls LaNier said she hopes sharing her story will help educate people who might not know be aware of hers and others’ struggles in the civil rights movement.

LaNier was one of nine black children who enrolled in previously racially segregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Then-Gov. Orval Faubus tried to prevent the teens from entering the school even though the U.S. Supreme Court had declared segregated schools to be unconstitutional.

“I have found a number of communities did not know about this time in our history, and I discovered anger from young people wanting to know why they didn’t learn” about it, LaNier said.

At the time, LaNier said, she didn’t realize how historic her decision to stay in the school would be.

“We didn’t go to school there to make history,” she said. “We went to school there to get the best education available.

“When you look back on it, I was 14 years of age,” LaNier added. Since then, “I have truly understood that we really did a monumental thing by staying. We weren’t quitters.”

LaNier appearance at UIS was featured in a February 10, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

Download a PDF of the article