Tuesday, September 07, 2010

where are the Little Rock 9

Minnijean Brown is a social activist and has worked on behalf of peacemaking, environmental issues, developing youth leadership, diversity education and training, cross-cultural communication, and gender and social justice advocacy. She served in the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior from 1999 to 2001. She has taught social work at Carleton University and in various community colleges in Canada.

On September 4, 1957, Elizabeth Eckford arrived at Central High School alone. She got off the bus a block from the school and tried to enter the campus, but was turned away by Arkansas National Guard troops. She then confronted an angry mob of people opposing integration, chanting, "Two, four, six, eight, we ain't gonna integrate." As she made her way down the block, Eckford attempted two more times to enter the school campus, but was blocked by the guardsmen, who were there under orders from the governor to keep them out. Eckford made her way through the mob and sat on a bus bench at the end of the block. She was eventually able to board a city bus, and went to her mother's job at the Arkansas School for the Deaf. Because all of the city's high schools were closed the following year, Eckford did not graduate from Central High School. She joined the U.S. Army, and was able to earn her G.E.D. and returned to Little Rock in the 1960s to be closer to her parents. She attended Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. Eckford is an Army veteran, and has held various jobs throughout her life. She has been a waitress, history teacher, welfare worker, unemployment and employment interviewer, and a military reporter.

An active member of the community from an early age, Ernest Green regularly attended church. He was involved in the Boy Scouts and eventually became an Eagle Scout. He was a student at Horace Mann High School before volunteering to integrate all-white Central High School. Green persevered through a year of daily harassment by some of his fellow students to become the first African-American Central High graduate on May 25, 1958. Sitting with Green's family at the event was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who attended the graduation virtually unnoticed. After graduating from high school, Green attended Michigan State University, earning a bachelor's degree in 1962 and a master's degree in 1964 in sociology. Afterwards, he served as the director for the A. Phillip Randolph Education Fund from 1968 to 1977. He then was appointed as the assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs during President Jimmy Carter's administration from 1977 to 1981. Currently, Green is Managing Director at Lehman Brothers in Washington, D.C. and has been with the company since 1987. He has served on numerous boards, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. Green is married with three children. In 1992, Disney produced a television special, The Ernest Green Story, which is still popular for students of all ages today and used in classrooms around the world to teach about the Little Rock Nine.

Thelma Mothershed Wair graduated from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, in 1964 and earned her master's degree in Guidance and Counseling, as well as an Administrative Certificate in Education from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Wair taught home economics in the East St. Louis school system for 28 years before retiring in 1994. Wair has also worked at the St. Clair County Jail, Juvenile Detention Center in St. Clair County, Illinois, and was an instructor of survival skills for women at the American Red Cross Shelter for the homeless. During the 1989-1990 school year, she was honored as an Outstanding Role Model by the East St. Louis chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction and the Early Childhood-Pre-Kindergarten staff of District 189. Wair and her late husband have one son
Beals graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor's degree. She earned a graduate degree in communications from Columbia University, worked as a reporter for NBC, and has served as a communications consultant.

Melba Beals is also the only one of the Little Rock Nine to have written a book based on her experiences at Central High School. The book, published in 1995, is a first-hand account of the trials and tribulations that Beals and the nine students encountered from segregationists and racist students. The book was named the ALA Notable Book for 1995 and won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award that same year. She has also written White is a State of Mind, published in 1999, which follows Beals from her senior year in high school to her college and family days in California, and serves as a sequel to Warriors Don't Cry. Beals has three children.

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