Points By Drew Pritt

September 23, 2007, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Culture, General Views, Local Politics

Minnijean Brown

Ernest Green

Thelma Mothershed

Melba Pattillo

Gloria Ray

Terrance Roberts

Jefferson Thomas

Carlotta Walls

Elizabeth Eckford

These were nine young people who along with the help of Daisy L. Bates who sought to do a simple thing. Its hard to imagine just twelve years after the Jewish Holocaust had been uncovered and ninety-three years after African-Americans had been freed in this country that something simple as going to school would be such an issue. Nine individuals who wanted to get an education and for some go to school in their neighborhood. Nine people who were not rabble-rousers or bad people. Nine young people who could easily be your child, your brother, your sister, your best friend who just wanted the freedom to go to school.

They endured shouts, angry crowds, were cursed, spat upon, and eventually the only way they went to school was surrounded by the bayonets of US Soldiers. Who were those who protested, shouted, cursed, and spat upon them….us, their neighbors, fellow Southerners. Clarification, white southerners!

I am white, Christian, and a Southerner. I am proud of that heritage. I know that the God I worship and serve was cursed, yelled at, and spat upon as well as crucified. Those images bring tears of pain to my eyes. I know I am not the only one moved to such emotion. Also, as a Southerner we have heard the stories of Reconstruction and how General Sherman burned plantations and Yankee soldiers in movies are shown raping virtuous Southern women. All this imagery. But some of those who value that legacy and those atrocities turned around and visited the same indignities and assaults upon nine young people. They never hurt anyone and yet they were treated horribly and I am sure irrevocably affected for the rest of their lives.

Now fifty years later we honor them, not just because they should be, but collectively as a community try to come to terms with the horribleness we visited upon individuals. Maybe its time for us to take a page from South Africa’s way that it came to terms with similar problems to resolve this pain we face collectively as a community.

The 1995 Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, which set up the commission, states that the commission’s aims are to investigate and provide as complete a picture as possible of the nature, causes and extent of gross violations of human rights. Amnesty may be granted to those who make full disclosure of all the relevant facts relating to acts associated with a political objective committed in the course of the conflicts of the past. It is open to perpetrators from both sides of the apartheid divide. Applications have come from police, black militants, right-wing activists and others.

Maybe this can work, but as for us, we celebrate the Little Rock Nine & Mrs. Daisy L. Bates and say a collective, THANK YOU!


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