The racial disparities faced today, as with those during the Little Rock desegregation crisis, hurt everyone and not just one community, civil-rights figure Minnijean Brown-Trickey told scholars Thursday.
Brown-Trickey’s comments were made during one of two conversations set that afternoon at Central High School for 61 graduates of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program.
“This whole idea that there is one belief system in a given community or that there is one kind of person, or there is one train of thought, that is where we go wrong,” she said.
Brown-Trickey and eight other black students were the first to integrate the school as the Little Rock Nine in 1957.
Fellow Little Rock Nine members Ernest Green and Carlotta Walls LaNier also spoke Thursday, answering questions about their interactions with opponents of integration at the time and their sources of continued strength in their fight for equal education and life years after desegregation.
Their will to continue their fight for equality, Green told graduates, came not just from within themselves but from the nine parents or guardians who stood beside them as they entered the school.
“You had nine families that really stood by us,” he said. “These were adults who really put their creature comforts on the line — house payments, car payments — in support of all the children.”
Thursday’s second panel discussion with Presidential Leadership Scholars graduates will feature former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Check back with Arkansas Online for updates and read Friday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.