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A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School
by Carlotta Walls Lanier, Lisa Frazier Page

Published: 2009-08-25
Hardcover : 304 pages
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When fourteen-year-old Carlotta Walls walked up the stairs of Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957, she and eight other black students only wanted to make it to class. But the journey of the ?Little Rock Nine,? as they came to be known, would lead the nation on an even ...
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Introduction

(When fourteen-year-old Carlotta Walls walked up the stairs of Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957, she and eight other black students only wanted to make it to class. But the journey of the ?Little Rock Nine,? as they came to be known, would lead the nation on an even longer and much more turbulent path, one that would challenge prevailing attitudes, break down barriers, and forever change the landscape of America.

For Carlotta and the eight other children, simply getting through the door of this admired academic institution involved angry mobs, racist elected officials, and intervention by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was forced to send in the 101st Airborne to escort the Nine into the building. But entry was simply the first of many trials. Breaking her silence at last and sharing her story for the first time, Carlotta Walls has written an engrossing memoir that is a testament not only to the power of a single person to make a difference but also to the sacrifices made by families and communities that found themselves a part of history.

Book Description
When fourteen-year-old Carlotta Walls walked up the stairs of Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957, she and eight other black students only wanted to make it to class. But the journey of the ?Little Rock Nine,? as they came to be known, would lead the nation on an even longer and much more turbulent path, one that would challenge prevailing attitudes, break down barriers, and forever change the landscape of America.

Descended from a line of proud black landowners and businessmen, Carlotta was raised to believe that education was the key to success. She embraced learning and excelled in her studies at the black schools she attended throughout the 1950s. With Brown v. Board of Education erasing the color divide in classrooms across the country, the teenager volunteered to be among the first black students--of whom she was the youngest--to integrate nearby Central High School, considered one of the nation's best academic institutions.

But for Carlotta and her eight comrades, simply getting through the door was the first of many trials. Angry mobs of white students and their parents hurled taunts, insults, and threats. Arkansas's governor used the National Guard to bar the black students from entering the school. Finally, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was forced to send in the 101st Airborne to establish order and escort the Nine into the building. That was just the start of a heartbreaking three-year journey for Carlotta, who would see her home bombed, a crime for which her own father was a suspect and for which a friend of Carlotta's was ultimately jailed--albeit wrongly, in Carlotta's eyes. But she persevered to the victorious end: her graduation from Central.

Breaking her silence at last and sharing her story for the first time, Carlotta Walls has written an inspiring, thoroughly engrossing memoir that is not only a testament to the power of one to make a difference but also of the sacrifices made by families and communities that found themselves a part of history.

Complete with compelling photographs of the time, A Mighty Long Way shines a light on this watershed moment in civil rights history and shows that determination, fortitude, and the ability to change the world are not exclusive to a few special people but are inherent within us all.



A Look Inside A Mighty Long Way

Click on thumbnails for larger images

The "Testament" memorial, which features life-size bronze statutes of each of the Little Rock Nine.




(Courtesy of the author)
I had six of these prized admission tickets for my closest family members to attend my graduation from Central.



(Courtesy of the author)
Little Rock Central High School, which the National Institute of Architects called "America's Most Beautiful School" when it was built in 1927.


(Courtesy of the author)
From right: Ernest Green, Gloria Ray, Jane Hill (standing behind Gloria) and I, face the National Guard on Sept. 4, 1957, on our first attempt to enter Central; Jane never returned to Central after that day.

(Will Counts Collection: Indiana University Archives)





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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Has Election of American first African American President hurt or help race relations.
Do you think if the integration was more than 9 people more like 50 would it be worst or better process?
by Wits-End (see profile) 03/11/11

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Changing"by jayon (see profile) 03/15/11

 
  "Inspiring"by Leslii (see profile) 03/14/11

This book was very well written. The descriptions of events were vivid; felt like I was walking the halls of Central with the 9 students. This story pulls at your heart as you read the courage and strength... (read more)

 
  "A Must read if you no little or nothing about Little Rock Nine"by Wits-End (see profile) 03/11/11

“A Might Long Way” was emotional from the forward by President Bill Clinton to the last page. Mrs. Lanier book is well written and seems like she has been writing books forever. She told her story... (read more)

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