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A Mighty Long Way


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My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High Scho

About the Author

Carlotta Walls LaNier attended Michigan State University and graduated from Colorado State College-now the University of Northern Colorado, on whose board of trustees she sits. After working for the YWCA, she founded her own real estate brokerage firm, LaNier and Company. A sought-after lecturer, LaNier speaks across the country, and she has received the Congressional Medal of Honor and two honorary doctorate degrees. She is the mother of two children, Whitney and Brooke, and lives in Englewood, Colorado, with her husband, Ira. Lisa Frazier Page, an editor and award-winning reporter at The Washington Post, is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Pact- Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream. A graduate of New Orleans's Dillard University, Page holds a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She grew up in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband. They have four children. From the Hardcover edition.


At 14, Lanier was the youngest of the "Little Rock Nine," who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1951; she went on to become the first African -American young woman to receive a diploma from the school. Her memoir provides a firsthand account of a seismic shift in American history. She recalls the well-reported violence outside the school and daily harassment and ineffective protection from teachers and guards. Away from school, the Nine were honored and feted, but their parents found their jobs-even their lives-in jeopardy. Lanier's house was bombed, and a childhood friend, Herbert Monts, was falsely accused and convicted. Monts's account of his experiences, shared with Lanier, 43 years later, is historically newsworthy. Lanier's recollections of family history and her relatively pedestrian experiences after high school graduation (graduate school, job hunting, marrying, finding her new home in Denver) lack the drama of her historical moment. In a sense, Lanier didn't make history, history made her. Her plainspoken report from the front line is, nevertheless, a worthy contribution to the history of civil rights in America. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Much has been written about the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957-58, but LaNier-youngest of the Little Rock Nine-offers a different perspective as a student who was eager for a good education but never really wanted to be at the center of such a momentous event. Facing abuse from white students, she also avoided the press and shunned attention from supporters. While many of the Little Rock Nine ended up attending school elsewhere, following the closing of all Little Rock high schools for the 1958-59 school year by Governor Faubus, LaNier returned for her senior year. She survived the bombing of her home, graduated from Central, and left Little Rock intending never to look back (she lives with her family in Colorado and founded a real estate brokerage firm). Verdict With honest clarity, LaNier acknowledges what Little Rock's African Americans lost because of Central's integration: secure jobs, a strong sense of community, and the special commitment of the well-qualified teachers at black schools. Not until 50 years later was LaNier able to confront her past and embrace her role in civil rights history. An engaging and moving book; highly recommended.-Kathryn Stewart, Proquest/Library of Congress, Washington, DC Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"This hindsight account suggests that the nation still has not achieved closure about the painful events at Little Rock. . . . Keenly observed and moving."--Kirkus Reviews

"This is a marvelous book. It is a personal account that describes a moving period in the transformative struggle for civil rights and social justice in America. Above all, this story is an inspiration. Through it all, Carlotta Lanier and her fellow students never gave up. They never gave in. They kept the faith and because of their dignity, their tenacity, and their sacrifice they helped to redeem the soul of America."--Congressman John Lewis

"Carlotta Walls LaNier's memoir, A Mighty Long Way, is a searing and emotionally gripping account of a young black girl growing up to become a strong black woman during the most difficult time of racial segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas. The book is a page-turner and a tear-jerker, discussing the struggle and progress of an individual, and reflecting the historic challenges African Americans face in overcoming racial segregation. This book is a must read and should be required reading for every child of every race who may be trying to appreciate the values of education and the challenges that they might present for people who are different. We learn more about the struggles of the students of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas than is imagined, and it will change the way we evaluate the courage and dignity of people like Carlotta Walls LaNier."--Professor Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School

"A half-century later, other young Americans draw their inspiration from Carlotta Walls. I am proud that she continues to carry the torch in the struggle for civil rights and to share her story of individual and collective courage with America's young people. Through her experiences of fifty years ago until today, she continues to challenge Americans about the true meaning of equal access to education for all."--Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe

"Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest of the Little Rock 9 to cross the color lines, political barriers and cultural chasms that circumscribed her life. She, her family and friends paid a heavy price that burdened them even as it liberated all of us. Her memoir, which is really our memoir, provides a rare perspective on that history in the making."--Hank Klibanoff, Pulitzer Prize winning co-author of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of the Nation "In A Mighty Long Way, this revered American and special friend boldly tells how her high school days have evolved as the central experience of her life. I commend Carlotta for the legacy she has left and for the lessons she and her colleagues have taught us all with such nobility."--Nancy Rousseau, Principal, Little Rock Central High School

"Gripping . . . A moving, very personal account of the aftermath of the 1954 Brown decision that began the painful process of desegregation."--Booklist "There is a quiet majesty to A Mighty Long Way. The telling of this journey is imbued with sweep, tenderness, and the sustained glory of memory."--Wil Haygood, author of In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr.

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