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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Event Honors Little Rock Nine, Civil Rights Icons

Dr. Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine and Bliss Ann Malone Hunter of the Freedom Riders will be guest speakers at UALR’s 2nd annual Civil Rights Heritage Commemoration and Public Forum Saturday, July 14, at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center Park.

Terrence Roberts was confronted by soldiers and turned away from Central High School in 1957Hunter, one of the five Freedom Riders who came to Little Rock in 1961, will give the keynote address with remarks by honorees and attorney Christopher Mercer Jr. Minnijean Brown Trickey will speak on behalf of the Little Rock Nine.

In addition to Roberts and Trickey, Elizabeth Eckford, Carlotta Walls LaNier, and Thelma Mothershed Wair of the Nine are scheduled to attend.

Following the commemoration, the forum will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library. Roberts will speak on the legacy of the 1957 desegregation of Central High.

The events are free and open to the public.

The full list of honorees include attorney Christopher Mercer Jr., publishers and NAACP civil rights activists L.C. and Daisy Bates, and the Little Rock Nine – Melba Pattillo Beals, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Thelma Mothershed, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Minnijean Brown Trickey.

The UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity will host the event marking the one-year anniversary of the institute, and heritage markers bearing the names of each of the new honorees along the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail will be revealed.

Bliss Ann Malone in 1961 during the Freedom Rides in Little Rock, Arkansas.The trail was inaugurated last year during the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders in honor of their efforts to integrate interstate bus transportation and the work of members of the Arkansas Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who organized lunch counter sit-ins in Little Rock in the 1960s.

The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail begins at the Old State House on Markham Street and stretches to the Clinton Center. It was established to educate the public about civil rights history in Arkansas and honor those who have contributed to obtaining equal rights for citizens in the state.

The UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity was founded in July 2011 to seek racial and ethnic justice in Arkansas by remembering and understanding the past, informing and engaging the present, and shaping and defining the future. It serves as a resource for multidisciplinary, research-driven data – including historical, sociological, educational, and economic analyses – to combat structural racism and fulfill its mission.

For more information, contact the institute at race-ethnicity@ualr.edu or (501) 569-8932.

Terrence Roberts photo courtesy Central High Museum Historical Collections/UALR Archives

Bliss Ann Malone photo courtesy Special Collections, University of Arkansas Archives, Fayetteville Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville.