MELBA PATILLO BEALS
Melba Pattillo Beals recounted her experience at Central High School in her award winning book Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School.
Dr. Beals grew up surrounded by family members who knew the importance of education. Her mother, Lois, was one of the first African Americans to graduate from the University of Arkansas in 1954. While attending all-black Horace Mann High School, Dr. Beals knew her educational opportunities were not equal to her white counterparts’ at Central High. She recalled that the soldier assigned to protect her instructed her that “In order to get through this year, you will have to become a soldier. Never let your enemy know what you are feeling.” She took the soldier’s advice, finishing the school year. Barred from returning to Central the following year when the city’s schools were closed, Dr. Beals moved to Santa Rosa, California, to live with a sponsoring family, Dr. & Mrs. George McCabe, who were members of the NAACP, for her senior year of high school.
Dr. Beals graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in journalism, and earned an MA from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, in New York, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of San Francisco. She has worked as a reporter for San Francisco’s public television station and for the Bay area’s NBC affiliate. She has written numerous articles for periodicals and is the author of White is a State of Mind, a sequel to Warriors Don’ Cry.
Dr. Beals is a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, and she is a much sought after communications consultant and motivational speaker. Dr. Beals is Chair of the Communications Department at Dominican University, in San Rafael, California.
Dr. Beals is the mother of teenage identical twins, Evan and Matthew Pattillo, and an adult daughter, Kellie, a doctoral candidate in psychology. Dr. Beals and her children live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
CARLOTTA WALLS LANIER
In 1957, at age 14, Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest Little Rock Nine member to integrate Central High School. This act of courage and defiance became the catalyst for change in the American educational system. By ushering in a new order, she and her fellow warriors became ‘foot soldiers’ for freedom.
Despite her youth, Mrs. LaNier understood the impact of education in a promising future. Inspired by Rosa Parks and the desire to get the best education available, she enrolled in Central High School. Anger and violent behavior threatened their safety and motivated President Dwight D. Eisenhower to dispatch the Army’s 101st Airborne Division to protect their constitutional rights. She graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1960 and attended Michigan State University for two years. In 1968, she graduated from the University of Northern Colorado.
Mrs. LaNier is an active supporter of her community, serving on the Board of Trustees for the University of Northern Colorado and Iliff School of Theology. She also serves as president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation and is a member of the Denver Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and the Johnson Legacy, Inc. Board of Directors.
In addition to the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, awarded to her as a member of the Little Rock Nine, Mrs. LaNier is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Northern Colorado and an inductee in the Colorado Woman’s Hall of Fame, the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
She is author of A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School (2010).
Mrs. LaNier has pursued a successful career as a real estate broker for more than 30 years and currently operates, with son Whitney, her own company. In addition to her son, she and husband, Ira, have an adult daughter, Brooke.
After 50 years, the most dramatic images of the 1957 crisis at Little Rock Central High School remain those of 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford, being taunted as she walked through a hate-filled mob, on her way to school. Today, Ms. Eckford recalls how difficult it was for her parents, Oscar and Birdie, to allow her to continue the struggle to integrate the Little Rock schools.
Because all of the city’s high schools closed her senior year, Ms. Eckford moved to St Louis, where she obtained her GED. She attended Knox College in Illinois, and received her BA in History from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. While in college, Ms. Eckford became one of the first African Americans to work in a local St. Louis bank, in a non-janitorial position, and later she worked as a substitute teacher, in Little Rock public schools.
Ms. Eckford, a veteran of the U.S. Army, has also worked as a substitute teacher in Little Rock public schools, test administrator, unemployment interviewer, waitress, welfare worker, and military reporter. Along with her fellow Little Rock Nine members, she is a recipient of the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal. Together with one of her former tormenters, Ms. Eckford also received a Humanitarian award, presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), following their meeting 34 years after an apology. The award recognizes forgiveness and atonement. They talked to students for two years, and, together, attended a 12-week racial healing course.
Ms. Eckford has started to walk through the painful past in sharing some of her story. She has said that true reconciliation can occur if we honestly look back on our shared history. She believes that the lessons learned from Little Rock Central High School must continue to be shared with new generations, reminding audiences that “the dead can be buried, but not the past.” Ms. Eckford continues her interest in education by sharing her story with school groups, and challenges students to be active participants in confronting justice, rather than being passive observers.
Ms. Eckford lives in Little Rock, and is a probation officer for the First Division Circuit Court of Pulaski County.
ERNEST G. GREEN
Ernest G. Green is the Managing Director of Public Finance for Lehman Brothers in Washington, D.C. Featured in the 2006 list of Black Enterprise Magazine’s “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street”, Mr. Green has served as senior investment banker on transactions for such key clients as the City of New York, State of New York, City of Chicago, Port of Oakland, City of Atlanta, State of Connecticut, Detroit Wayne County Airport, Denver Airport, and the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority.
Mr. Green served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training during the Carter Administration. President Clinton appointed him to serve as Chairman of the African Development Foundation. Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley, appointed him Chairman of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Advisory Board.
Born in Little Rock, on September 22, 1941, Mr. Green was the first African American to earn his high school diploma from Central High School. At the age of seventeen he was awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, as one of the Little Rock Nine. In 1995, he was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. Mr. Green is also a recipient of the Urban League’s Frederick Douglass Freedom Medal, and the John D. Rockefeller Public Service Award. On November 9, 1999, with the Little Rock Nine, he was presented by President Clinton with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Several books, movies and documentaries have chronicled Mr. Green and his eight classmates’ historic year at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas — the most recent being the “Ernest Green Story”, produced and distributed by the Walt Disney Corporation.
Mr. Green holds a B.S. in Social Science and Masters in Sociology from Michigan State University, and honorary doctorates from Michigan State University, Tougaloo College, and Central State University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Fisk University, Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network, Clark Atlanta University Board of Trustees and the African American Experience Fund Board of Trustees among other distinctions.
Mr. Green and his wife Phyllis live in Washington, D. C. He is the proud father of Adam, Jessica and McKenzie Ann.
GLORIA RAY KARLMARK
Gloria Ray Karlmark is the youngest daughter of H. C. Ray, son of a former slave, and founder of the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service for Negroes, and Julia M. Ray, a Sociologist and a graduate of Tuskegee Institute and Philander Smith College. Mrs. Karlmark’s father was Laboratory Assistant to George Washington Carver, and received his degree in Horticulture under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute. Mrs. Karlmark’s mother was fired when she refused to withdraw her from Little Rock Central High School in 1957-1958. When Central High School remained closed, on an order from Governor Faubus the following year, Mrs. Karlmark moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she graduated in 1960 from the newly integrated Kansas City Central High School.
Mrs. Karlmark went on to graduate from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago, after which she joined the IIT Research Institute as Assistant Mathematician on the APT IV Project (robotics, numerical control, and online technical documentation). This included work at Boeing in Seattle, McDonnell-Douglas in Santa Monica, and NASA Automation center in St. Louis.
In 1969, she and her husband took a sabbatical year following the trail of the Maya Indians from Mexico through Central America by car. Soon after, they immigrated to Sweden. In the years that followed, the Karlmark family was blessed with a son and a daughter.
Recruited to join IBM’s Nordic Laboratory, Mrs. Karlmark completed the Svenska Patent och Registreringsverket “Patent Examiner” Program in 1975, and joined IBM’s International Patent Operations as European Patent Attorney.
In 1976, she co-founded Computers in Industry, and international journal of practice and experience of computer applications in industry affiliated with UNESCO and the International Federation of Information Processing-IFIP. She served some 15 years as Editor-in-Chief.
In the years leading up to her retirement in 1994, Mrs. Karlmark also worked for Philips International in management as a specialist in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, and Scotland. She and her family currently reside in Europe.
Jefferson Thomas was a track athlete at all-black Dunbar Junior High School in Little Rock when he volunteered to integrate all-white Central High School as a sophomore in 1957.
Mr. Thomas was a quiet, soft spoken, unique, and special person. He had a subtle, infectious sense of humor that served him well throughout his life. He would find that sense of humor and his LOVE for humanity severely tested by the hate and violence directed toward him by some of the white students at Central High School. Mr. Thomas graduated from Central High School in May 1960.
Mr. Thomas married in 1965 and has one child (Jefferson, Jr.), still living in Los Angeles. Mr. Thomas, Sr. was inducted into the United States Army in 1966. He returned to civilian life in the summer of 1968.
After obtaining a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Los Angeles State College, Mr. Thomas went to work as an Accounting Clerk and later, Supervisor for Mobil Oil Corporation. When Mobil Oil moved its Credit Card Operations, Mr. Thomas remained in Los Angeles, and entered Federal Service as an Accounting Clerk with the Department of Defense. The DOD relocated parts of its LA operations to Columbus, Ohio, in 1989. He sold his business and moved to Columbus.
After moving to Columbus, Mr. Thomas continued his commitment to serve the local community, Mr. Thomas took time to serve as a volunteer mentor in the Village to Child Program, co-sponsored by Ohio Dominican University.
He was a frequent speaker at numerous high schools, colleges and universities throughout the country, and an eager mentor to young people. He was the recipient of numerous awards from local and federal governmental agencies. These awards include the NAACP Spingarn Medal, and Congressional Gold Medal, this Nation’s longest-running tradition of honor, for helping make democracy work. He was especially proud of the life-size sculpture of the Little Rock Nine at the Arkansas State Capital in Little Rock, the first in the state honoring living citizens.
Jefferson Thomas retired in September 2004, after 27 years of Federal Service. He departed this life in 2010. His wife, Mary, still resides in Columbus, Ohio.
MINNIJEAN BROWN TRICKEY
Although all of the Nine experienced verbal and physical harassment during their year at Central, Brown was first suspended, and then expelled for retaliating against the daily torment. She moved to New York and lived with Drs. Kenneth B. And Mamie Clark, the African American psychologists whose social science findings played a critical role in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case.
After graduating from the New Lincoln School in 1959, Mrs. Brown Trickey studied journalism at Southern Illinois University. She received a Bachelor of Social Work in Native Human Services from Laurentian University and Master of Social Work at Carleton University, in Ontario Canada.
Mrs. Brown Trickey has pursued a career committed to peacemaking, environmental issues, developing youth leadership and social justice advocacy. She served in the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior. She has taught social work at Carleton University and community colleges in Canada.
Mrs. Brown Trickey is the recipient of numerous awards for her community work for social justice, including Lifetime Achievement Tribute by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and the International Wolf Award for contributions to racial harmony. With the Little Rock Nine, she received the NAACP Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal.
She is the subject of a documentary, Journey to Little Rock: the Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey, which has received critical acclaim in international film festivals in Africa, the UK, the U.S., South America and Canada. She was featured in People Magazine, Newsweek, the Ottawa Citizen, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, Donahue, as well as on numerous other television, radio and in print media. She appeared with the Little Rock Nine on Oprah and the Today Show.
Mrs. Brown Trickey currently resides in Canada, and is the Shipley Visiting Writer for Heritage Studies at Arkansas State University. She is the mother of six children, Morning Star, Isaiah, Sol, Ethan, Spirit and Leila Trickey.
TERRENCE J. ROBERTS, Ph.D.
Terrence J. Roberts was a 15 year old junior when he entered Little Rock Central High school. Despite the daily harassment, he completed his junior year, but moved with his family to Los Angeles the following year and graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1959.
Dr. Roberts received a BA in sociology from California State University at Los Angles in 1967. This was followed by an MS in social welfare in 1970 from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1970 and a Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University in 1976.
From 1975 to 1977 he was a member of the faculty at Pacific Union College, a private liberal arts college in Napa Valley, California. From 1977 to 1985 Roberts was Director of Mental Health at St. Helena Hospital and Health Center. From 1985 to 1993 he was assistant dean in the UCLA School of Social Welfare.
Roberts joined the Antioch University Los Angeles in 1993 and served as core faculty and co-chair of the Master of Arts in Psychology program until 2008.Dr. Roberts is CEO of Terrence J. Roberts & Associates, a management consultant firm devoted to fair and equitable practices. A much sought after speaker and presenter, Dr. Roberts maintains a private psychology practice and lectures and presents workshops and seminars on a wide variety of topics.
Dr. Roberts is the recipient of the Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal. He serves on the boards of the Economic Resources Center in Southern California, the Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, and the Little Rock Nine Foundation.
He is the author of the books Lessons from Little Rock (2009) and Simple, Not Easy: Reflections on Community, Social Responsibility, and Tolerance (2010).
Dr. Roberts and his wife Rita are the parents of two adult daughters and live in Pasadena, California.
THELMA MOTHERSHED WAIR
A native of Bloomberg, Texas, Thelma Mothershed Wair attended Dunbar Junior High School and Horace Mann High School, before transferring to Central High School. Despite the tumultuous experience of her junior year at Central High, she completed her course work successfully. After the city’s high schools were closed the following year, Mrs. Wair earned the necessary credits for graduation through correspondence courses, and by attending summer school in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her diploma from Central High School by mail.
Mrs. Wair graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1964, earning a degree in Home Economics Education. She earned her Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling, as well as an Administrative Certificate in Education from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. She worked in the East St. Louis school system for 28 years, including 10 as a Home Economics teacher, and 18 as a counselor for elementary career education, before retiring in 1994. Mrs. Wair has also worked at the St. Clair County Jail, Juvenile Detention Center in St. Clair County, Illinois, and was an instructor of survival skills for women at the American Red Cross Shelter for the homeless.
In addition to the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, Mrs. Wair received numerous awards for her professional contributions and community service, including Outstanding Role Model by the East St. Louis Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction, and the Early Childhood Pre-Kindergarten staff of her district in East St. Louis., among others.
Mrs. Wair currently resides in Little Rock. She and her late husband Fred have one son, Scott, and two grandchildren, Brennan Dallas and Gabriel Scott.