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Member of ‘Little Rock Nine’ speaks at Stennis Event

CELEBRATING KING: Minnijean Brown Trickey spoke at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration held at the John C. Stennis Space Center. Her speech highlighted her time as a student at Central High, Dr. King’s work, and social issues in America. Photo by Ashley Collins.

CELEBRATING KING: Minnijean Brown Trickey spoke at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration held at the John C. Stennis Space Center. Her speech highlighted her time as a student at Central High, Dr. King’s work, and social issues in America. Photo by Ashley Collins.

 

With the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday approaching, John C. Stennis Space Center held its annual Dr. King celebration on Wednesday.

The event was held at the StenniSphere Auditorium in the Stennis Space Center for Stennis employees. The event’s guest speaker was Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the members of the ‘Little Rock Nine’.

Before the event began, the Item got the opportunity to speak to Trickey.

Trickey became part of history when she, along with eight other African-American students, decided to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.

“I had no idea, first of all, it would be so dramatic,” Trickey said about the large impact desegregation had on the country. She was only 15 when she signed up to go to school at Central High.

“But it turns out the older I get, the more I understand that it’s about the Constitution, it’s about the Supreme Court, it’s about Federal Court…it’s about persistence of the human spirit,” Trickey said.

Now at the age of 73, Trickey said she’s even amazed at how a group of teenagers were able to make history.

“We tend not to think of kids as making history but we did,” Trickey said.

At 11 a.m., Trickey stood at the podium and spoke in front of a large crowd after being introduced by Jerry Cook, Deputy Director of Stennis Space Center.

Trickey went on to speak about the power of non-violence for social change. She mentioned Dr. King, and how admired he was by the Little Rock Nine for his civil rights work.

She also spoke to the audience about her difficult time at Central High.

“They called us names, spat at us…you just walk quietly, keep your mouth shut, and keep your head down. But I didn’t do that so I was often the target,” Trickey said.

Since Central High, Trickey has worn many hats, which include teaching, motivational speaking, social justice advocacy, social work, environmental advocacy, developing youth leadership, and receiving four honorary doctorates, among other things.

In 1999, all the members of ‘Little Rock Nine’, including Trickey, were given the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton.

Trickey added how important it is to teach the younger generation about not only personal responsibility, but also historic events, like Little Rock.

“My message is that we’re not too young to change the world, and we should go about doing it,” Trickey said. “Children need to be taught about historical events, like Little Rock, for them to understand and grow as individuals.”

Trickey continues to do public speaking engagements, and for the past 10 years she’s been a nonviolence facilitator for high school students for Sojourn to the Past, which is a ten-day interactive historic experience for high school students.

After her speech concluded, the floor was opened up for questions.