Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Richard Pacelle, professor of political science at the University of Tennessee, to find some answers.
Many of the people attending today’s commemoration of the March on Washington played roles big and small in the civil rights movement, from registering black voters in the South to helping to end school segregation.
It’s important for as many of us to talk about what we went through, so that history does not continue to repeat itself.
In 1957, Carlotta Walls LaNier was 14, and the youngest of the Little Rock Nine, the black children who volunteered to be the first to integrate the then all-white Central High School under a court ordered mandate.
It was dangerous.
Then-governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, ordered the National Guard to bar the children from entering school. Crowds spat on the children, and mobs intimidated them. Ultimately, President Eisenhower sent members of the 101st Airborne Division to escort the children to school.
LaNier is attending the commemoration today.
“This is quite a day,” LaNier told Here & Now. “I’m just pleased to interact with so many young people who are learning more about how far we have come, but also how far we have to go.”
LaNier said that telling her story encourages young people to pursue a path toward progress.
“You make these leaps, and unfortunately there’s a group that’s always wanting to divert progress,” LaNier said. “That is why it’s important for as many of us to talk about what we went through, so that history does not continue to repeat itself.”