(Comcast NBCUniversal) - February is Black History Month, and this year we are hearing directly from icons of the Civil Rights movement.
In September 1957, then-14-year-old Carolotta Walls LaNier played a crucial role in school desegregation when she and eight other courageous students integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
They would become known as the “Little Rock Nine.”
The iconic images of federal troops escorting LaNier and eight other Black teenagers past an angry mob as they made their way into the all-white Central High School represented a new beginning.
The world was watching, but after the cameras left and the doors closed behind them, they experienced routine harassment and even violence.
Four weeks before graduation day, LaNier’s home was rocked by an explosion.
“I got up that very next morning after my home was bombed and I went back to school because if I had not gone, they would have felt like they had won,” she said. “I graduated. I am the only female of the ‘Little Rock Nine’ to participate in graduation exercise at Little Rock Central high School, and I’m very proud of that diploma because I finished what I started.”
Her act of courage and defiance was a catalyst for change during the Civil Rights movement. She and the other members of the “Little Rock Nine” were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.
LaNier went on to graduate from the University of Northern Colorado and then became a successful real estate broker.
This interview was produced by Comcast NBCUniversal. To watch her full interview and more, visit VoicesOfTheCivilRightsMovement.com.