From Little Rock Nine pioneer, a gift to Smithsonian museum

There is no blood or spittle on the black skirt set, the honor roll report card and the 1960 diploma from Little Rock’s Central High School.

These ordinary markers from a girlhood education, being donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, bear no obvious testament to their power to rend a nation.

But in the middle of the American Century, as the country reckoned with its oldest business, battles over race and citizenship were fought by people who placed their highest stakes in ordinary places — lunch counters, water fountains, schools. For Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest of the “Little Rock Nine,”who in 1957, under escort from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, became the first black students to desegregate Central High, these items are artifacts of assertion....

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