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Journeys of Discovery: Little Rock Nine stirs emotional conversation about Racism in America

  When correspondent Tom Wilmer stopped in to visit with Robin White, National Park Service Superintendent at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, their conversation quickly led to tears when Wilmer asked White to talk about lessons learned, but more importantly, lessons not learned in the intervening six decades--a moment in time back in September 4, 1957, when nine African American students attempted to register for classes at the all-white Central High School.

The second half of this show (originally broadcast September 2016) details the events at Central High School back in 1957 when the nine black students’ entry was blocked by Arkansas National Guardsmen. Governor Orville Faubus had ordered the Guard to block the entry of the nine black students—who remain etched forever as The Little Rock Nine.

President Eisenhower eventually dispatched the 101st Airborne Division and placed the Arkansas National Guard under Federal Command. With bayonets fixed, more than 1,000 federal troops escorted the nine black students into the school as hundreds of taunting, rock throwing white men and women venomously protested.

The Nine were reluctantly allowed to attend classes, but not without endless harassment and abuse. They were not allowed to attend any extra curricular affairs, proms, programs or sports. Wilmer visits with Phyllis Brown, little sister of Minnijean Brown who was one of the Little Rock Nine.

Ms. Brown recalls the pure terror her family and friends lived with 24 hours a day. Robin White, Superintendent at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, shares her passionate insights in to the history and lessons learned. 

Wilmer then reports from Central High where he visits with Rex Deloney. head the art department. He shares his insights in to the Little Rock Nine legacy that lives on palpably in the classrooms, in the hallways, throughout the entire community of little Rock and across America. 

The events of September 1957 at Little Rock Central High school was a seminal turning point in America’s civil rights movement—the lessons learned live on at Little Rock’s Central high school today.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryiHeartRadioApple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. 

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