In September 1957, Central High School in
Little Rock was to begin the integration
process. From a group of students, nine were
selected to be the first African Americans
in the building. They were brave, courageous
and had support from parents and friends,
but it was harrowing for them. No one should
have to put up with what others did to them.
Over time these individuals went on to accomplish
as much as nine other pale faces - I hope
that's not racist.
Ernest Green graduated from Michigan State University with a BA degree, followed by a Master's degree in sociology. While there, he was at the top of his class and continued with his activism, engaging in the Civil Rights movement. Green was director of the A. Philip Randolph Education Fund and Assistant Secretary of Labor for President Jimmy Carter. His other work includes: partner in the firm Green and Herman; owner of E. Green and Associates; Managing Director with Lehman Brothers in Washington, D.C. dealing with fixed incomes; board member of the Albert Shanker Institute. He organized and served as chair of the Scoutreach program in the nation's capital.
Elizabeth Eckford was awarded a BA in history from Central State University in Ohio. She spent five years in the United States Army and wrote for newspapers in Alabama and Indiana. Some of her other work includes that of a waitress, welfare worker, information specialist, teacher and probation officer, which she currently does. In 1997, she shared the National Conference for Community and Justice Father Joseph Biltz Award with Hazel Bryan Massery. In 2011, David Margolick wrote about the two in Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women Of Little Rock. They reconciled at the end of the twentieth century but then Hazel's racism caused a later split.
Melba Patillo Beals earned a bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University, a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University - writing for major magazines and newspapers at 17 - and a Doctoral Degree in Education from the University of San Francisco. She wrote about the Little Rock Nine in Warriors Don't Cry and White Is A State of Mind. She is a journalism teacher at Dominican University in California.
Granddaughter of a former slave, Gloria Ray Karlmark graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago with a bachelor's in chemistry and mathematics. She worked at McDonnell-Douglas in Santa Monica, Boeing in Seattle and NASA in St. Louis. Now residing in the Netherlands and Sweden, Gloria edited a European computer magazine and was a documentation specialist. She finished the Patent Examiner Program and became a member of the IBM team as European Patent Attorney. She is the founder of Computers in Industry and worked with UNESCO dealing with applications in industry. She has also worked in management in France, Belgium, Spain, Scotland and Germany for Philips International.
Following her graduation from Central High in 1960, Carlotta Walls LaNier attended Michigan State University and then her family moved to Colorado. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and soon became an administrator for teens at the YWCA. She founded LaNier and Company, dealing in real estate. A member of Metrolist, Inc., she has worked there for over three decades. Carlota is a member of the NAACP, Urban League and president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation, which strives for equal education access for blacks. LaNier is a trustee for the university from which she graduated and a trustee for the Iliff School of Theology, located in Denver. The Girl Scouts honored her as a Woman of Distinction and inducted her into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. The National Shining Star Award was presented to her by the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women.
Terrence James Roberts journeyed to Los Angeles and then graduated from California State University with a BA in sociology. Next was the University of California at Los Angeles where he earned a Master's degree from the School of Social Welfare. Traveling back east to Carbondale, his next degree was a PhD in psychology from Southern Illinois University. In the mid 1970s, he was on the faculty of Pacific Union College in Napa Valley. As the century ended, he was at Antioch University in Los Angeles, serving as co-chair of the Master's degree program in psychology. He retired in 2008 and runs a practice in Pasadena along with being CEO of Terrence J. Roberts & Associates. When Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, he could be seen on many interviews.
Jefferson Thomas graduated from Central in 1960 and then attended Wayne State University. After moving to Los Angeles, he graduated from Los Angeles State College with a business degree. There he was involved in student government and was President of the Associated Engineers. He was treasurer of the Youth Council of the NAACP and President of the Progressive Baptist Youth Convention. He also was in Vietnam, serving as a squad leader. Narrating the 1964 Academy Award film, Nine from Little Rock, his words were: If Little Rock taught us nothing more, it taught us that problems can make us better. Much better. Thomas was a mentor in the Village to Child Program of Dominican University in Ohio. The university awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his service in advancing human rights. He frequently spoke at schools nationwide. After almost 30 years as a civil servant, he retired from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Columbus, Ohio. He was also on the Board of Directors for the City of Refuge Learning Academy at the First Church of God. Shortly before his 68th birthday, Thomas died in Columbus, Ohio, of pancreatic cancer.
Thelma Mothershed Wair finished her junior year at Central. She then earned her diploma through correspondence courses and summer school in St. Louis. She graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale followed by a master's degree in Guidance Counseling in 1970 from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. A few years later she earned an Administration Certificate in Education from the same university at Edwardsville. She retired after twenty-eight years of teaching home economics in the school system in East St. Louis. Then she worked at the St. Clair County Jail and as an instructor at the American Red Cross Second Chance Shelter. Her honors include: Outstanding Role Model by the East St. Louis Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction; the National Humanitarian Award, presented at the 2005 National Convention of Top Ladies of Distinction. In 2003 she returned to live in the Little Rock area.
Minnijean Brown-Trickey was initially suspended from Central when she dropped a bowl of chili and splashed two white boys. She was then expelled two months later for calling a student, white trash. The other girl had smacked Minnijean with her purse. Brown-Trickey lived in Canada in the late twentieth century. She worked for civil rights, becoming involved with the First Nations. She studied at Laurentian University in Ontario and earned a Master's Degree in Social Work at Carleton University in Ottawa. She received the Congressional Gold Medal, Spingarn Medal and the Wolf Award, among other citations. She was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior responsible for diversity in the Clinton administration. Journey to Little Rock: The Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey was produced in Ottawa in 2002 and five years later, she was given an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University.
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