Desegrated But Not Integrated: 60 Years After Little Rock Nine


Sixty years ago, nine black teenagers enrolled in the all-white Little Rock (AK) Central High School, after the Supreme Court decided to strike down racial segregation laws. They went down in history as the Little Rock Nine. Youth Radio’s Zia Tollette is a junior at Central High. She looks back at the Little Rock Nine’s sacrifices, which made her own attendance at Central High possible.  

When I was younger, the Little Rock Nine were recurring characters in my life. Growing up, there was even a painting of them in my house that hung over one of the windows. When I was little I would look up at it as my parents would tell me stories about the Nine and their sacrifices.

“It truly devastated our family unit,” said Phyllis Brown. She’s the sister of Minnijean Brown, one of the Little Rock Nine.  
Audio download:
little-rock-nine-today.mp3

I remember

I remember this.

Today I turn 66, so I would have been 8 and then 9 when this unfolded. We did not have a television. But a friend did. And after school my Mom took me over to their house to watch the news. She wanted me to see. She did that at other times. We went to the same friend after school and stayed through the evening to watch the news of John F. Kennedy's assasination.

What I remember most about this event, and what was recalled by looking at this video, were three things:
  • The angry yelling.
  • The single high school student sitting on the bench, enduring in silence.
  • Confusion. I didn't understand, truly, why the students couldn't go to the high school they wanted to go to.
My mother explained. 

I still didn't understand.


 
Sep 18

Walt Whitman Live Reading.

Sep 15

On Teachers

As some of you know, I spent 33 years in journalism. During that time I worked in a newsroom with no union representation and I worked in a newsroom (as a manager) that had representation from seven different unions. I was a shop steward once and was targetted by managment, and I was, for a short time, on negotiating committee representing management. I also covered unions and had staff that covered unions -- and strikes. Lots of strikes. Invariably we would only get access to the striking side, the workers, but one time, in Akron, Ohio, I had a team go in and cover the people who had to keep Roadway (the trucking company) operating while all the Teamsters drivers were on strike around the country.

So I have some understanding of unions. And also have understanding of how difficult it is to find out the truth -- what are the real issues that are not presented solely through the perspective of one side.
Sep 14

Nervous about Sound?

Sep 12

At the end of this rainbow ...

Sep 11

Patriotic Blood

Editor's note: This piece was written in 2004, back when YWP was a feature at a newspaper and not what it is today. The writer was in 7th grade. Her username was imagine. 

I pledge allegiance to the flag

Running to the beat of your heart almost silently through the never-ending woods.

Branches tear your face.

Roots trip your feet, but they are nothing.

Only one thought is fixed in your mind.

 
of the United States of America

The weight of a gun rides in your hand,

daring you to shoot it,

to break the silence of the forest;

the forest of Hell.

No birds sing their songs of daybreak,

for there are no birds left to sing.


and to the republic for which it stands,

A twig snaps sending a sharp crack through the forest,
Sep 09

Recalls the speech of Henry V

Adelle, your poem reminded me of this speech in Shakespeare's play, Henry V. Henry delivers this on the eve of the battle of St. Crispin's Day in which his forces faces seemingly insurmountable odds. And his monologue comes in response to Westmoreland's lines:
 
WESTMORELAND: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
 

HENRY:
What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:

Shaving

I have just been woken from what seems like an afternoon slumber.

Fiona has spoken. And she has told me the sad story of women -- young and old -- who are now expected to shave their legs. And underarms. OMG, how unsightly. 

Not so, I argue.

Now some of you will recall I am a shaving shunner. I have had a beard since July 4, 1975 and there is nothing significant in the fact that I stopped shaving on the day we celebrate our country's founding, our day of "independence," as it were. Here are the facts: On July 3, 1975 the enormous, but vacant, 250-room Poland Spring House, an 1800's resort building in Maine with breathtaking views of the White Mountains and famous water that was a supposed elixir of youth, burned. And when I say burned, I should say it was a confligration. And I was in the middle of it.

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