Choices People Made: The Little Rock Nine and Their Parents
"Somewhere along the line, [staying at Central High] became an obligation. I realized that what we were doing was not for ourselves"
--Elizabeth Eckford, one of the "Little Rock Nine"
"I figured, I’m a nice person. Once they get to know me, they’ll see I’m okay. We’ll be friends.” Minnijean Brown was sixteen in 1957 and in the eleventh grade. According to Daisy Bates, she “sang well, was good at sports, and liked dancing.” She was the oldest of four children and lived with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Brown. She was also the only one of the “Little Rock Nine” who did not finish the year.
"Minnie was about five foot ten and this fellow couldn’t have been more than five-five, five-four. And he reminded me of a small dog, yelping at somebody’s leg. Minnie had just picked up her chili, and before I could even say, 'Minnie, why don’t you tell him to shut up?' Minnie had taken this chili and dumped it on this dude’s head. There was absolute silence in the place, and then the help, all black, broke into applause. And the white kids, the other white kids there didn’t know what to do. It was the first time that anybody, I’m sure, had seen somebody black retaliate in that sense."
"I just can’t take everything they throw at me without fighting back. I don’t think people realize what goes on at Central. You just wouldn’t believe it. They throw rocks, they spill ink on your clothes, they call you 'nigger,' they just keep bothering you every five minutes. The white students hate me. Why do they hate me so much?"
"My first day inside Central High was very smooth, smoother than I expected. Outside was the main cause. If it wasn’t for the people outside, we would have finished the day. But I don’t intend to quit. We’ll try again. It’s still my school, and I’m entitled to it."
--Ernest Green, September 24, 1959, in a New York Post article
"We integrating students shared many things in common. All of our parents were strict, no-nonsense types. Several of them were teachers and preachers, or held well-established positions in other professions. All our folks were hardworking people who had struggled to own their homes, to provide a stable life for their families. We share many of the same family values traditional to all small-town Americans."
"I try not to let Carlotta know how much I worry. I can’t say that I’m not proud of her. Sometimes she gets impatient with me when she’s talking about what’s happening at Central. And I’d say,'Now, Carlotta, it can’t be that bad.' Little does she realize that every time I see a bruise on her leg where some bully has kicked her with steel tips on his shoes, I’m just about ready to commit murder. I keep thinking each day, maybe tomorrow it won’t be her leg; it will be her eye."