The Little Rock Nine

Thelma Mothershed

Thelma Mothershed was born in Bloomburg, Texas on November 29, 1940.  She attended Dunbar Junior High School and Horace Mann High School before transferring to Little Rock Central where she completed her junior year of high school (Thelma, 2011).  After high school, Thelma attended Southern Illinois University and received her Master’s in Guidance and Counseling and also received an Administrative Certificate in Education in 1964(Thelma, 2011).  Since then she has worked in the St. Clair County Jail in St. Clair Illinois and also as an instructor of survival skills for homeless women at the American Red Cross Second Chance Shelter for the Homeless(Thelma, 2011).  In the year 1989 Thelma Mothershed was recognized by the East St. Louis Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction and the Early Childhood-Pre Kindergarten Staff as an Outstanding Role Model and National Humanitarian Award in 2005 (Thelma, 2011).

Elizabeth Eckford

Elizabeth Eckford was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 4, 1941.  She, like Thelma, attended Horace Mann High School before transferring to Little Rock Central at the age of fifteen.  Elizabeth Eckford is known to be the first African American that tried to integrate a school in 1957 (Elizabeth, 2011).  Her teacher called all the students to have them meet in front of the school to allow them to walk in together, but Elizabeth did not have a phone and did not get the message (Elizabeth, 2011).  The next morning Elizabeth attempted to enter the school alone but was met by an angry mob of over 1000 white men and women (Elizabeth, 2011).  Due to the shutting down of the project, Elizabeth Eckford did not graduate from Little Rock Central but she did take night classes in order to receive her diploma (Elizabeth, 2011).  After high school, Eckford attended Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio where she received her BA in history (Elizabeth, 2011). She served in the United States Army for five years and wrote for two different newspapers one in Alabama and one in Indiana (Elizabeth, 2011).

Melba Pattillo

Melba Pattillo was born in Little Rock Arkansas on December 7, 1941.  Melba Pattillo was thirteen years old when she chose to go to Little Rock Central High School.  However, she did not finish school at Little Rock Central either, Pattillo moved to Santa Rosa California to finish her senior year at Montgomery High School (Melba, 2011).  After high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University and a Masters in journalism at Columbia University (Melba, 2011).  Melba Pattillo started writing for different magazines and newspapers and wrote two books on the Little Rock Nine events; Warriors Don’t Cry and White is a State of Mind (Melba, 2011).

Jefferson Thomas

 Jefferson Thomas was born in Little Rock Arkansas on September 19, 1942.  He was a track star at Horace Mann High School before transferring to Little Rock Central High School as a sophomore (Jefferson, 2011).  Jefferson Thomas attended Wayne State University for a short time before moving to California to become a Treasurer for the NAACP (Jefferson, 2011).  But then enrolled into Los Angeles State College where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Jefferson, 2011).  In 1957 Jefferson Thomas served in the Army in the Vietnam War as an infantry squad leader (Jefferson, 2011).  He also narrated a film in 1964 called Nine from Little Rock (Jefferson, 2011).  On September 5, 2010, two weeks before his 68th birthday Jefferson Thomas died of pancreatic cancer (Jefferson, 2011).

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