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Oct. 6: Hood hosts one of Little Rock Nine

Monday, October 6, 2014

FREDERICK, Md.—A participant in one of the most well-known and significant civil rights battles for equal education in the United States will recount her experiences Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Hodson Auditorium in Rosenstock Hall at Hood College.

Carlotta Walls LaNier, author of A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School, will share the story of her three-year journey through her tumultuous high school years during a turbulent time in civil rights history.

A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow the lecture.

In 1957, the then-14-year-old LaNier was the youngest of the Little Rock Nine, as they came to be known, to enroll in racially segregated Central High School. This act of courage and defiance became the catalyst for change in the American educational system.

At that time, resistance to integration of schools was so great in Alabama that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had to send U.S. troops to protect the nine black students from the angry white mobs that followed them to school on the first days. LaNier's years there were filled with daily harassment and exclusion by white students, and a mysterious bombing of her family's home.

Following her graduation in 1960 from Central High School, LaNier attended Michigan State University for two years and in 1968 graduated from what is now the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelor of science degree.

An active member of her community, she serves on the board of trustees for the University of Northern Colorado and the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. She is president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation, a scholarship organization dedicated to ensuring equal access to education for African Americans, and is a member of the Denver chapter of The Links, Inc. and the Johnson Legacy, Inc. board of directors.

In 1999 President Bill Clinton presented the nation's highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, to her and the other eight Little Rock Nine members. They were also awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1958.

LaNier's lecture is part of the Hanson Lecture Series, made possible through the Robert D. and Barbara Esmer Hanson '45 Fund of the Foundation for Enhancing Communities. Hood and Gettysburg colleges are beneficiaries of the fund, which provides for speakers of national and international prominence to visit the campuses.