On February 9th, Carlotta Walls LaNier, author of the memoir A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School spoke at Rudisill Regional Library in North Tulsa as part of a special Black History Month celebration. She signed copies of the book for a crowd of about 50 people.
Almost fifty-three years ago at the age of fourteen, LaNier along with eight other black students caused a stir in Little Rock and the nation when they exercised their right as American citizens to go to the school in town with the best education, which happened to be Central High School, all white at that time. The students were pursuing rights granted to them by the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling in 1954.
The students which became known as the Little Rock Nine were first turned away from Little Rock Central High School on September 4th, 1957. On September 25th, after weeks of unruly mobs and failed attempts to enter the school the students were finally ushered into Little Rock Central High School by soldiers.The mobs continued in the days that followed, but eventually the loud protests subsided enough for the group to continue with their education.
During LaNier’s time at Central High School she concentrated fiercely on her schoolwork. She didn’t have close friends and only shared a few short conversations about school assignments with her classmates. If a fellow student showed any interest in being her friend, they were met with the same bullying and mean spirit that the “Little Rock Nine” were met with. Three months before her graduation her house was mysteriously bombed and her father and childhood friends were unjustly accused.
LaNier received her diploma from Central High School in 1960 and left Little Rock the day after. She eventually graduated from Colorado State College, now the University of Northern Colorado. She has been a successful real estate broker for over 30 years.
LaNier continues to spread the news that everyone, regardless of race wants the same things from life and is hopeful that we are on our way to “colorblind” society.
In the decades since her time at Central High School, LaNier feels there is one important thing that gets left out of the Civil Rights narrative.“I would really like for people to know that the real heroes and she-roes during this time were our parents and I don’t think that they got the accolades they deserved,” she says.
LaNier is the president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation. The mission of the Little Rock Nine Foundation is to provide direct financial support and a mentorship program for students of color to help them reach their educational goals.
For more information, go to http://www.littlerock9.com