FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- More than 100 students at The University of Arkansas had the opportunity to hear from a member of the Little Rock Nine.
Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest member of the group of students, who were first to publically integrate with white students in the south.
“Separate, but so called ‘equal,’ really did not exist,” LaNier said.
LaNier told students about the year of 1957, when she signed up to attend the now-famous Central High School in Little Rock.
“That early September night, when I went to bed, I slept the last night of innocence of my life,” LaNier said.
LaNier said her decision to go to Central was all about taking advantage of a greater learning opportunity.
“It was about getting the best education available at the time.”
Little did she know, the decision to integrate the school would gain national attention.
LaNier, and eight other students, were met with hostility when they attended school.
“There was a long mob, and the crowd was screaming.”
With opposition to integration from Arkansas’ governor at the time, Orval Faubus, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the military to protect LaNier and her classmates while they changed the future of education as we know it.
“Parents were hollering, and screaming ‘let’s go in there and lynch one of them. Just give us one of them, and let us lynch them’.”
LaNier’s message today, nearly 60 years after Little Rock made history in the south, is to encourage all students to live up to their potential.
Using her story, LaNier wants the youth of the nation to know they should never pass on a chance to better one-self, no matter what it takes.
“Whether the door is flung wide open, or there is just a crack in the door, you need to be prepared.”