UCO Welcomes Member of “Little Rock Nine” Carlotta Walls LaNier

UCO Welcomes Member of “Little Rock Nine” Carlotta Walls LaNier

Members of the Little Rock Nine shake hands with New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner in 1958. The Little Rock Nine were teenagers who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The nine include, left to right, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Terrance Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Ernest Green, Melba Pattillo, Thelma Mothershed, Jefferson Thomas and Gloria Ray. (Provided/Wikimediacommons)

One of the famed “Little Rock Nine,” will speak at the University of Central Oklahoma Thursday about her experiences in desegregating schools in the 1950s.

In September 1957, Carlotta Walls LaNier and eight other African-American students took their first steps into a school that didn’t want them. LaNier was the youngest of those students.

“It’s a talk you won’t want to miss,” said UCO Student Body President Stockton Duvall. “We have a chance to hear from a monumental historical figure and get to see what it was like just 60 years ago here in America.”

Sept. 25 was the 60th anniversary of the day the Nine entered Little Rock Central High School.


Duvall hopes students will be more comfortable starting conversations about difficult issues, using the recent Charlottesville attack as an example.

“When I was searching for speakers there were many different events in front of the news cycle that led me to them. Once I heard Carlotta’s name I couldn’t think of a better speaker to begin the conversation about these tough issues on a college campus,” said Duvall.

LaNier will give away 100 copies of her book, “A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock,” to students, with more for sale and a book signing after the show, according to Duvall.

The steps taken by the Nine marked a significant milestone in the American civil rights movement.

Statues have been erected in their honor. Beside a young LaNier at the Arkansas State Capitol are statues of the other eight: Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed, and Melba Pattillo Beals.

“I don’t know that we have ever brought in anyone that has created such a positive change in American culture,” Duvall said. “Carlotta Walls LaNier has a unique perspective that only [a] few can tell about.”

Today, LaNier owns a successful real estate business which she runs with her son.

For her significant role in American history, LaNier was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton.

LaNier is president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation, which focuses on the improvement and equality of our education system.

The event is open to the public and tickets are free, with priority seating given to UCO students and faculty.  It will begin at 6 p.m. in Constitution Hall, but ticketed guests are requested to be in their seats by 5:45 p.m.

Students may reserve their free tickets online, or pick up tickets at the UCO Student Association office, Room 148 of the Nigh University Center.

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