The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Dr. LaVerne Bell-Tolliver and others who desegregated Little Rock’s junior high schools will discuss their experiences for the first time from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.
During the event, titled ”Phase II: The Desegregation of Little Rock Public Schools,” the former students will discuss their roles in the desegregation process in the early 1960s.
Between 1961 and 1962, 25 black students enrolled at junior high schools throughout Little Rock that had previously been closed to them.
Bell-Tolliver was one of them; she was the first and only African American to attend Forest Heights Middle School in 1961.
In addition to Bell-Tolliver, an assistant professor in the UALR School of Social Work, Judge Kathleen Bell, Henry Rodgers, Wilbunette Walls Randolph, Glenda Wilson, Dr. Kenneth Jones, and Judge Joyce Williams Warren will also participate in the panel discussion to share their stories.
For many of them, this will be the first time they will discuss their experiences publicly.
The panel will be moderated by Rhonda Stewart, local history and genealogy expert at The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.
Dr. John A. Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History and chair of the UALR Department of History, will provide an overview of the history of school desegregation in the area including the landmark Brown vs Board of Education decision and 1958, a so-called “lost year” when all schools in the district were closed in order to block integration.
In addition to the presentations and discussions, copies of historic documents and artifacts from the era will be on display for public viewing.
For more information, contact Bell-Tolliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The program in sponsored in part by the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitors’ Center, the Central Arkansas Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers, and a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council’s African American Heritage Fund.