Much has been written about the historical desegregation of Little Rock Central High School by nine African American students in 1957. History has been silent, however, about the students who desegregated Little Rock’s five public junior high schools—East Side, Forest Heights, Pulaski Heights, Southwest, and West Side—in 1961 and 1962.
The First Twenty-Five gathers the personal stories of these students some fifty years later. They recall what it was like to break down long-standing racial barriers while in their early teens—a developmental stage that often brings emotional vulnerability. In their own words, these individuals share what they saw, heard, and felt as children on the front lines of the civil rights movement, providing insight about this important time in Little Rock, and how these often painful events from their childhoods affected the rest of their lives.
“During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and of social unrest, many people are rethinking what they have always thought to be true,” Bell-Tolliver said. “Minority voices and different perspectives are being heard. The First Twenty-Five offers readers the opportunity to explore first-hand accounts of what it was like for African American students to enter into school systems that were not designed for them, venturing into settings where they were not wanted. Readers are invited to consider the courage it took to be one of the first twenty-five students to face racial unrest on a daily basis as they desegregated the previously all-White Little Rock public junior high schools.”
The University of Arkansas Press is happy to make The First Twenty-Five: An Oral History of the Desegregation of Little Rock’s Public Junior High Schools, edited by LaVerne Bell-Tolliver, available at the new low price of $24.95. (An additional 25% discount is applied when you buy from uapress.com.)