Little Rock Nine Members Question How Far We've Come 63 Years After Broking Racial BarriersBreaking News
tags: civil rights, segregation, Arkansas, School Desegregation
Confronted by an angry mob hurling rocks and death threats, 15-year-old Minnijean Brown-Trickey pushed her way through the crowd, only to be stopped by National Guardsmen.
The year was 1957. And behind the guardsmen stood Little Rock Central High School, which had resisted desegregation since the Supreme Court ruled public school segregation unconstitutional three years earlier.
Brown-Trickey and eight other students, known together as the Little Rock Nine, entered the school weeks later, after President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division to escort them. The event proved a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement.
More than 60 years later, as racial tensions grip the nation, Brown-Trickey and other members of the Little Rock Nine question whether their struggles have borne fruit.
"I've just been so sad about whether my life was worth anything because it doesn't seem like things have changed, and I'm sure a lot of people feel that way," Brown-Trickey said from her home in Vancouver, British Columbia. "I got pushed back to Emmett Till, and growing up in Jim Crow, and Central (High School) and being arrested as an environmentalist. Every aspect of my life has just come forward and it's just sorrow."
Other members of the tight-knit Little Rock Nine echoed her sentiments.
"After 78 years of life, in all these years of fighting the same battle, what am I doing? Isn't it supposed to be better than this?" said Melba Patillo Beals from her home in San Francisco.
But for Terrence Roberts, another member of the group, the turmoil surrounding George Floyd's death is predictable. He doesn't see today's protests as a new era but as ongoing warfare.
"You can't separate it into time periods, as if it's changed," said Roberts. "It hasn't."
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