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A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School Hardcover – August 25, 2009
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When fourteen-year-old Carlotta Walls walked up the stairs of Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957, she and eight other black students only wanted to make it to class. But the journey of the “Little Rock Nine,” as they came to be known, would lead the nation on an even longer and much more turbulent path, one that would challenge prevailing attitudes, break down barriers, and forever change the landscape of America.
Descended from a line of proud black landowners and businessmen, Carlotta was raised to believe that education was the key to success. She embraced learning and excelled in her studies at the black schools she attended throughout the 1950s. With Brown v. Board of Education erasing the color divide in classrooms across the country, the teenager volunteered to be among the first black students--of whom she was the youngest--to integrate nearby Central High School, considered one of the nation’s best academic institutions.
But for Carlotta and her eight comrades, simply getting through the door was the first of many trials. Angry mobs of white students and their parents hurled taunts, insults, and threats. Arkansas’s governor used the National Guard to bar the black students from entering the school. Finally, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was forced to send in the 101st Airborne to establish order and escort the Nine into the building. That was just the start of a heartbreaking three-year journey for Carlotta, who would see her home bombed, a crime for which her own father was a suspect and for which a friend of Carlotta’s was ultimately jailed--albeit wrongly, in Carlotta’s eyes. But she persevered to the victorious end: her graduation from Central.
Breaking her silence at last and sharing her story for the first time, Carlotta Walls has written an inspiring, thoroughly engrossing memoir that is not only a testament to the power of one to make a difference but also of the sacrifices made by families and communities that found themselves a part of history.
Complete with compelling photographs of the time, A Mighty Long Way shines a light on this watershed moment in civil rights history and shows that determination, fortitude, and the ability to change the world are not exclusive to a few special people but are inherent within us all.
A Look Inside A Mighty Long Way
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
It's hard to imagine many teenagers who would handle themselves as well as Carlotta did. Every day was torture. She didn't just dodge insults; she dealt with physical harassment. Kids would knock her books over, then kick her when she bent to get them. A female student stepped on her heels, drawing blood. Through it all, Carlotta held firm. She didn't cry. Occasionally she reported instances of misconduct. But mostly, after the troopers left, she was on her own.
Carlotta's family supported her decision at great personal sacrifice. The community helped; I hadn't realized how much the NAACP was involved. The school kept closing when the governor would rather have no schools than integrated schools.
Carlotta and her friends sacrificed a large part of their teenage years. Forbidden to attend after-school activities, she joined some events at Mann, were African-Aemricans were welcome.
The most moving part of the book comes at the end, when the Little Rock 9 finally get recognition. Carlotta returns for an anniversary in Little Rock, where the president and Mike Huckabee (a very different governor from Faubus, she notes) hold the doors while she enters Central High. Later she watches Barack Obama win the election. Because she bravely walked up the steps of Central High, she says, now Barack and his family can walk up the White Hosue steps.Read more ›
I am a white woman, a few years younger than the author, who grew up in Flint, Michigan. Flint was a segregated city and, in the early 1950s, my family moved from our home, along with all of our neighbors, because a black family had moved onto our block. This was mainly instigated by the real estate people who would move in a black family and then urge the white people to sell their homes (this was known as "block busting"). I never met any black people until high school, when I volunteered at a home for the aged, and worked beside the kitchen staff who were all black. In those days, there were black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods, and segregation in housing and schools was the norm. I wonder how many younger people really understand this?
What stood out for me in reading this book was the innocence of Carlotta as she quietly decided that she would take the opportunity offered by the Brown vs.Read more ›
In the 1954 decision "Brown v. Board of Education" the U.S. Supreme Court declared that "all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional" and furthermore ordered the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. By the time the State of Arkansas got around to complying with the Supreme Court ruling it was 1957. Governor Orval Faubus was a self proclaimed segregationist who fought integration tooth and nail from the get-go. He was not happy about but plans were moving forward to integrate the schools including Little Rock Central High School. Nine courageous young black students registered to attend Little Rock Central High in the fall of 1957. One of them was Carlotta Walls.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a powerful read. I recommend it to everyone! I was required to have this book for a Civil Rights History course during my last year of college and I have since re-read... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Joslin
In working with two of my tutees, I found this book to be an eye-opener for them in regard to life during the Civil Rights period. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Don Hill
I was bowled over by the courage and enthusiasm displayed within this fantastic book; as a teacher (in the UK) one often feels education is sometimes not appreciated as well as it... Read morePublished 5 months ago by lzzao
My daughter says that it's very fascinating and inspiring book.Published 5 months ago by Rosanna D. Echeverria
Important, powerful story that needed to be told. Obviously a first book written by an novice author. Her publisher should have provided better editing support. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Sandra Hurley
Truly a remarkable journey. And as charismatic, sorrowful, joyous and triumphant as I expected it to be!Published 7 months ago by patti