Sunday, February 24, 2013

In the middle of my speech-writing attempt, Martha forwarded a video made on the 57th anniversary of the harrowing events at Little Rock's Central High ... .

... that was almost lost over time.  I'd almost forgotten ...

Haven't figured out how to  export that  to my blog yet, and it almost seems unfair to reference it here without sharing this disturbing though inspiring record of Minnijean Trickey Brown's witness to those awful days -- and, I promise to do so when possible .

Betty at Little Rock Central High
Meanwhile, you can access my own record of that history by the accounts of a visit on the 50th anniversary of those times that Ranger Lucy Lawliss and I made to Little Rock in 2006.  We participated in a National Women's History Project panel at the University of Arkansas where we were privileged to meet Ms. Brown and her NPS Ranger daughter, Spirit, and to hear that history firsthand by some who lived it.

The courage of those 9 teenagers leaves me awestruck to this day.  None was over the age of 16, yet they and their parents braved the evil hysteria of the mob with the support of the (untrusted) Arkansas State National Guard.  This magnificent school sat closed for two years afterwards in defiance of the desegregation order rather than allow students of color to attend school with white students.

The entire story is there to read, and I needn't repeat it here, but to the extent that it may add a deeper layer of understanding of the complexity that Americans of color live with in exercising our citizenship -- it may be important to share.

I'm reminded almost daily that -- for reasons unknown -- I've been privileged to have been allowed up front and center row seats from which to witness the past half-century of American history.

(Go to the little white search bar on the left side of the screen and above the banner and my photo and enter the words Little Rock High School.  Then scroll down.)

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