Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School, Carlotta Walls LaNier

For the longest time, I wanted nothing more to do with Little Rock. After leaving in 1960, I returned only when necessary, usually for funerals. But my work as president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation brings me home often these days, and I inevitably wend my way down Interstate 630 to my old neighborhood. Most often, I go there to see Uncle Teet, who still lives in my great-great-grandfather Hiram Holloway's old house, five houses down from the one where I grew up. But every now and then, I pull up alongside the redbrick bungalow at 15th and Valentine streets, park the car, and get out.

Carlotta Walls LaNier was one among the nine black students who entered Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957. The nine came to be known as the "Little Rock Nine", and then changed history. Just to get into the high school involved the calling in of federal security (the governor of Arkansas himself tried to prevent the students from entering.) This is Carlotta's memoir of her experiences and then life afterwards. I found A Mighty Long Way quite moving indeed; Carlotta and the other kids just wanted to get an education, and instead, they're thrown into this highly racist and stressful environment. I imagine that it must have been very difficult for her and the others to really learn anything, when they were always fearing for their families' safety, and being taunted at school. And they couldn't retaliate at all, because they would get in big trouble, even though it was one of the other kids who started it. Even the sympathetic kids couldn't really do anything, because they would be branded a "n**ger lover." I think if I was one of the parents, I would take my kid out of the school, because, as I said, it would be really hard for them to get a good education in such an environment. But someone had to do it. I enjoyed this one, which my mother is reading for her class. The author is coming to visit the Tacoma Evergreen State College! Maybe I'll get to meet her...

Read A Mighty Long Way:
  • if you are interested in Civil Rights or the Little Rock Nine specifically
  • if you are looking for a moving memoir
272 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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