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).


Ernest Green

Ernest Green was born in Little Rock Arkansas on September 22, 1941.  He was the first black to graduate from school in 1958 (Ernest).  He received an anonymous donation to attend school at Michigan State University where he obtained his Bachelor of Art in 1962 and his Master’s degree in sociology in 1964; he was top of his class (Ernest).  He later discovered that the anonymous donation was from the president of the school, John A. Hannah (Ernest).   After graduating he received an apprenticeship in building trades for Adolph Institute (Ernest).  Ernest Green appeared in the PBS Free to Choose panel discussion related to workers’ rights and the economy in 1980 (Ernest).

Minnijean Brown

Minnijean Brown was born on September 11, 1941, in Little Rock Arkansas.  During her time at Little Rock Central, she was suspended for pouring a bowl of chili onto a White boy for blocking her way in the cafeteria in December 1957 (Minnijean, 2011).  Two months after returning to school, in February 1958, Minnijean Brown was expelled for calling a white girl “white trash” after the girl hit Minnijean with a purse (Minnijean, 2011).  After the Little Rock Nine events, Minnijean Brown remained a civil rights activist.  She was appointed by President Bill Clinton to be Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior (Minnijean, 2011).  North-East Pictures produced a movie in 2002 about Minnijean Brown and her struggles with the Little Rock events called Journey to Little Rock: The Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey (Minnijean, 2011).

Carlotta Walls

Carlotta Walls was the youngest of the Little Rock Nine, born in Little Rock on December 18, 1942.  Carlotta Walls attended Dunbar Junior High School before going to Little Rock Central High School.  She enrolled to Michigan State University for two years, but her father was unable to find work because of the scandal involving his daughter so they moved to Denver, Colorado (Carlotta, 2011), while in Denver Carlotta attended Colorado State College.  She founded a real estate brokerage company called LaNier and Company (Carlotta, 2011).  Carlotta Walls was a member of the NAACP, Urban League, and is currently the president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation (Carlotta, 2011).  In 2000 she was named “Woman of Distinction” by the girl scouts and in 2004 she was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Colorado Women (Carlotta, 2011).

Terrence Roberts

Terrence Roberts was born on December 3, 1941.  He attended Horace Mann High School before going to Little Rock Central.  After high school, he enrolled at California State University where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in sociology in 1967 (Terrence, 2011).  In 1999 he became employed at Antioch University in Los Angeles California, where he worked as a core faculty member and co-chair of the Master of Arts in psychology program (Terrence, 2011).  Terrence Roberts is currently the CEO of Terrence J. Roberts and Associates, a management-consulting firm (Terrence, 2011).

Gloria Ray

Gloria Ray was born September 26, 1942, in Little Rock Arkansas.  After high school, she attended and graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Math (Gloria, 2012).  Gloria Ray has served as a documentation expert for a Dutch company and editor for a European computer magazine (Gloria, 2012). Gloria Ray now lives in Sweden and the Netherlands (Gloria, 2012)