I was saddened to hear about the death of Jefferson Thomas, one of the Little Rock Nine, who passed away on September 5, at the age of 67.
As an adult, I’m fascinated by history and its impact on us today. But I’ll admit, I didn’t pay the attention I should have as a teenager in history class. So, I knew little, if anything, about The Little Rock Nine before I started doing research for my book, Broken Dolls.
They were nine African-American students who, in 1957, enrolled at the racially-segregated Little Rock Central High School to test the enforcement of a 1954 Supreme Court order that outlawed racial segration in the nation’s public school system.
The bravery it took for them to enter that school, to stay amidst all the threats, taunting and harrassment, was captured in photographs and film clips of the era and can be seen at The Central High School Museum, located across the street from Little Rock Central High School. In my two visits to the museum, as I watched the film footage, it’s hard for me to imagine what it would have been like to be one of those nine teens. I doubt I could have been so brave.
The museum spotlights how the courage of a few can change history. Here is a link with more information on the school and museum, which is now a National Historic Site.
Information on Central High School Vistors’ Center
In a KATV interview, Spirit Trickey, Park Ranger and daughter of Little Rock Nine Member Minnijean Brown-Trickey said, “We were deeply saddened to hear about the loss of Jefferson Thomas, but through the Little Rock Nine foundation, through the historic site and through the young people he inspired, his legacy will definitely live on.”
Excerpt from Broken Dolls:
Pelted by taunts and threats, Sachi knew exactly how those nine kids felt. She thought their hunched shoulders must ache, as they tried to make themselves smaller somehow. The yelling might stop then. And their hearts probably beat so hard and fast they could hear it in their ears—still, it was not loud enough to block out the ugly sounds of the crowd. She knew they must have knots in their stomachs, too. How could they be sure if the armed soldiers were there to protect them or shoot them?