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LaVerne Bell-Tolliver -- the first black student to attend Forest Heights Junior High School and current associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock -- was guest speaker at the monthly Legacies and Lunch on June 5. The event at the Main Library was hosted by the Central Arkansas Library System and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

Bell-Tolliver recently collected firsthand accounts of 25 students who helped desegregate Little Rock's junior high schools. She compiled those memories into the book: The First Twenty-Five: An Oral History of the Desegregation of Little Rock's Public Junior High Schools. Bell-Tolliver spoke about the book and led a question and answer session with with her sister, Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Bell of Helena, and Pinkie Thompson, the first students to desegregate Pulaski Heights Junior High School.

Bell and Thompson shared their experiences as students at the junior high, with both agreeing it was difficult because of the isolation and indifference they experienced. Bell-Tolliver said that was a common thread of their experiences -- the feeling of being ignored. "There's nothing like the pain of being totally ignored."

Legacies and Lunch, which is supported in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council, is a free program on the first Wednesday of each month. Guests are invited to bring sack lunches.

Gallery: Legacies and Lunch

High Profile on 06/17/2018

Print Headline: Speaker discusses LR desegregation

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