LANSING, Mich. — In 1957, nine brave students were chosen to integrate an all white school in Arkansas. Sixty five years later, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan is welcoming four of them for their annual Martin Luther King Jr Day celebration.
"This year, recognizing that it is going to be the 65th anniversary of the desegregation of the Rock Central High School, what better group could we think of to bring them the Little Rock Nine," said Elaine Hardy, chairperson for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan.
In Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public school was unconstitutional. In 1957, those nine students were among those chosen to put that ruling to the test.
"The Little Rock Nine, that's a name given to nine black students who appeared at the front of Central High School in 1957 and were turned away by Arkansas national [guardsmen] that had been called out by the governor, in addition to a mob of screaming, angry, hate filled people," said Minnijean Brown-Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine.
"You're not even able to be scared because you don't know what's going to happen. You only know what's gonna happen when it happens," she said.
At just 15, Trickey felt the weight of racial hate resting on her shoulders. She and the other students faced several dangers while trying to attend school.
Mid-Michigan's MLK Day celebration will include four of the Little Rock Nine: Trickey, Ernest Green, Carlotta Walls Lanier and Terrence Roberts.
They will participate in a moderated discussion with Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist.
"Celebrating the contributions of the Little Rock nine goes hand in glove with our commitment to telling the stories of the civil rights movement and connecting individuals to that movement. Because it's not a story, our civil rights movement isn't a isn't a story about black Americans. It's a story about America," Hardy said.
The celebration can be viewed on the commission's website and on YouTube at 7p.m.
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