Education & Race Forum Begins LR Nine 50th Anniversary Events

The 50th anniversary is still five days away but already there is action being taken to remember the Little Rock Nine. But this year the anniversary is more than just festivities.
The 50th anniversary is still five days away but already there is action being taken to remember the Little Rock Nine. But this year the anniversary is more than just festivities.

The first of its kind forum on race and education titled "Character and Courage" was held at the Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas and not by accident. The church is considered one of the most diverse churches in the country with a 50/50 split among white and black members.

Town hall forums afford the chance for everyone to talk about an issue.

"I'm hoping an education forum will give everyone the opportunity to be educated," says Minijean Brown Trickey.

But for Minijean Brown Trickey a forum on race and education just underscores what she calls a serious social flaw.

"Can you imagine in 2007 we are still talking about race and education? That's pretty catastrophic to me," Trickey says.

'Where have we been, Where are we now, Where do we need to be', all questions this forum posed to a diverse panel from around the country.

Angelo Ancheta is an Assistant Professor of Law at the Santa Clara University School of Law. Ancheta also served as the Director of Legal and Advocacy Programs at The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University from 2000-2004.

Ralph Brodie graduated from Central High in 1958 and was the student body president during the '57-'58 school year. He serves on Little Rock's 50th Anniversary Commission for the Desegregation of Little Rock Central High.

Elizabeth Jacoway grew up in Little Rock and lived through the desegregation crisis, but failed to question what was happening in her community. She has since spent the last 30 years investigating the crisis while interviewing every available participant while teaching at the University of Florida and UALR.

Sandra Robbie is an Emmy-winning filmmaker taking the story of California school desegregation case Mendez vs. Westminster across the country in a bright orange 1967 VW bus. Robbie is also the writer/producer of the Emmy-winning documentary Mendez vs. Westminster: For All Children / Para Todos los Ninos. This year marks the 60-year anniversary of this historic case and the US Postal Service has announced they will be issuing a stamp on Mendez vs. Westminster this year.

Minijean Brown Trickey is one of the nine African American students who collectively resisted opposition to the desegregation to enter Central in 1957, with protection from federal troops. Trickey continues today as a teacher, writer and motivational speaker.

The youngest on the panel is Brandon Love, 18, of Little Rock. The 2007 Central High Student Body President authored an essay on his alma mater examining the segregation that still exists inside the halls of an American landmark for integration. The essay has since garnered national attention.

"I definitely didn't expect the attention because I did not think anyone was going to read it except for maybe fifteen admissions counselors," Love says. "It's been wild since being on panels and being asked so many questions."

As one of the Little Rock Nine, Trickey says there is more work left to make education accessible for all children. And she believes a forum can foster new ideas to make it happen.

"Yes, absolutely," Trickey says. "Maybe people will go away from here and go out and talk about it."

The discussion on race, education and the law continues Friday morning. There is a legal symposium at the Bowen School of Law on the UALR campus entitled "Central High - It's History and Legacy: Can True Integration Be Achieved?"

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