NATION

Little Rock Nine student donates artifacts to African American History Museum

Comment
Decrease Increase Text size

In September 1957, nine African-American students braved angry white mobs to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Now, as the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture is being built on the National Mall, it is getting a little piece of history from the Little Rock Nine era, from the youngest of those civil rights pioneers.

Carlotta Walls, who was 14 that day, wore a brand new cotton dress. Today, she donated it along with her high school report card and Class of 1960 diploma to
the museum.

"It allows us to tell a story of what young people can do to demand America to be made better," says museum director Lonnie Bunch.

It was a story of bravery. At first, the Little Rock Nine were stopped by violent crowds.

On the second try, the next day, police had to rescue them.

Then three weeks later, on orders from President Eisenhower, the 101st Airborne Division escorted them into the school.

They were able to stay in the classrooms finally, but the hate in the classroom stayed, too.

Now married, a grandmother and living in Denver, Carlotta Walls Lanier hopes her gifts will continue to educate.

The museum is still just a big hole in the ground and won't open till December 2015, but they've already collected 30,000 artifacts.

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus