Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Little Rock 9 Member: Dies at 67

Jefferson Thomas, a member of the so called Little Rock 9, the 9 black students who desegregated Central High School in 1957, passed away on Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Jefferson along with 8 other students were escorted into Central High School by military forces in Little Rock, Arkansas. Decades after this triumphant victory over racial discrimination, the majority of our public schools still have yet to reach the level of what you could define as integrated, or at least separate but equal.

Jefferson was a retired Federal Accountant for the US Department of Defense. According to the Little Rock 9 Foundation, Jefferson traveled throughout the country promoting racial harmony and supporting young people in seeking higher education. Jefferson, along with the other 8, were given personal invitations by President Obama to his Inauguration and the President explained that because of individuals like the Little Rock 9, his own dreams and aspirations were able to be realized.

The Death of Jefferson Thomas is a perfect time to remember the struggles that our forefathers had to face in order to obtain the smallest freedoms that we now enjoy and often take for granted. Particularly in a post No Child Left Behind America, where many black students are not obtaining a quality education it raises questions as to the validity of such triumphs as the Brown vs Board of Education decision. 50 years later, although we have what is portrayed as desegregated schools, if you do a state by state case study you will see that public school's are just as segregated as Sunday Morning Service.

Was the Brown vs Board of Education a farce to keep black people quiet about equal rights in education? 

Is the failure of the public school system disproportionately affecting black children?

While thinking about these questions take a look at this video from a 1957 newcast on the Little Rock 9.

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