LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Friday morning, members of the Little Rock Nine came together for a public speaking event to discuss education, social justice and equality. This is as they commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Little Rock Central High School integration.
The Little Rock 9, included 9 black students who were the first to attend Central High School, thus desegregating the school on September 25, 1957.
At the event were, Dr. Terrence Roberts, MinniJean Brown-Trickey, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford and Gloria Karlmark, the five of the eight surviving members who detailed the life and legacy of their impact on the education system.
Green says he remembers when the 1954 Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs the Board of Education came down, it was a landmark case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.
“The Supreme Court decision was going to change the south and I thought in my head the south needed to be changed,” said Green.
Following that ruling, it gave 9 black students the opportunity to walk into Central High School, however, they were met with an angry white mob and had to be protected by federal troops.
“We learned that as young people ourselves that you don’t give up and you have the ability to make change,” said Eckford.
All of the members at the event along with Gloria Karlmark still believe more needs to be done when it comes to racial issues.
“It seems like we have taken a number of steps if not backwards then to the side. But I think we are in a better place than ever to really go forward to make some real genuine changes,” said Karlmark.
Minnijean Brown-Trickey says there’s only one real fix to racial and violence issues.
“We will have a better society when we have a better education for people and that’s across cultures, classes and all that,” said Brown-Trickey.
Eckford agrees and suggests educating the youth on their past and making a difference.
“What I learned was that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when placed in extreme circumstances,” said Eckford.
Dr. Roberts also reminds young people to fight for a cause dear to them.
“I would say not to pick up our mantle but to figure out what mantle they want to carry. How can they know, build a fund of information,” Dr. Roberts said.
The members non-present were Melba Pattillo Beals, Thelma Mothershed-Wair and Carlotta Walls LaNie. Jefferson Thomas died in September 2010.
There are more events for the commemoration this weekend.