Local activist reflects on the desegregation of Little Rock Central in 1957

Local activist reflects on desegregation of Little Rock Central

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - One influential community leader, Annie Abrams, wants the city's future leaders to know the true value of the history of the Little Rock Nine.

She is a walking history lesson. She's seen it all, experienced a lot, and is working hand in hand with the city. She is helping to prepare this year's anniversary, celebrating the integration of nine black students into the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School.

“Both of them hate that picture,” Abrams said, pointing to the famous photo of Elizabeth Eckford being followed by several white women who opposed the de-segregation of the school.

It’s a frozen moment from 1957, documented for all to see and learn from.

"This is the face of civil rights and justice, and this is the face of injustice,” she said pointing to the photo of Eckford and a woman who spit on her.

Abrams, a community activist, has helped plan four Little Rock Central High School integration anniversaries.

“The name has not always been Central High School," she explained. "It was changed from Little Rock High School when it moved from the east side of town to the west side, and that was the central part of the city to be.”

She thinks it's important for today's youth to take advantage of living in a society where people from different backgrounds can co-exist.

“That was not possible for me because I was still in school under the law. Separate and supposedly equal,” said Abrams.

She graduated from Paul Lawrence Dunbar in 1950.

“Whites in this town were graduating from white high schools,” Abrams said.

Her home is a private museum, full of rich history and world encounters she uses to educate everyone including students like Chauncey Williams-Wesley and Emma Jewell.

“It's really cool to know that our history is being learned around the world,” Jewell said.

Both Central High seniors are thankful to have opportunities some considered just a dream in 1957.

“If the Little Rock Nine didn’t make the sacrifices they made, I would not be walking these halls,” added Williams-Wesley.

Both students said more than anything attending school at Central together has taught them the importance of diversity and inclusiveness.

Events for the anniversary begin on Friday, September 22.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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