The Little Rock Nine: Everyday Heroes of Civil Rights

Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the Little Rock Nine, had the courage to face daily insults and challenges as a teenager in the newly integrated Little Rock Central High School in the late 1950s. These books tell the stories of other everyday heroes who helped to turn civil rights from a cause into a movement that relied on the willingness of average citizens to make sacrifices for equality.

A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School
By Carlotta Walls LaNier; Foreword by Bill Clinton
When 14-year-old Carlotta Walls walks up the stairs of Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957, she and eight other black students only want to make it to class. But the journey of the "Little Rock Nine" would lead the nation on an even longer and much more turbulent path, one that would forever change the landscape of America.

Turn Away Thy Son book jacket

Turn Away Thy Son: Little Rock, the Crisis That Shocked the Nation
By Elizabeth Jacoway
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the "Little Rock Nine," this landmark work of history - 30 years in the making - presents a searing and groundbreaking account of one of the most dramatic events in the Civil Rights movement.

A Life Is More Than a Moment: The Desegregation of Little Rock's Central High
By Will Counts
Taken a half-century ago, these photographs depict the desegregation crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was so moved at the beating of veteran Alex Wilson that he ordered 1,200 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne to Little Rock, and federalized the Arkansas National Guard to quell the "disgraceful occurrences." A Life Is More Than a Moment carries us back to those painful and turbulent times, but it does not leave us there. In addition to these immortal photos, photographer Will Counts also took new portraits of many of the original subjects when he returned to Little Rock in 1997. Essays by Robert S. McCord, Ernest Dumas, and Will Campbell chart the path leading to the crisis and define its impact on the civil rights movement. This book shows an ugly hatred, but in the end, it is also a book of hope and reconciliation.

My Father Said Yes: A White Pastor in Little Rock School Integration
By Dunbar H. Ogden; Foreword by Desmond Tutu
On September 4, 1957, the group of African American high school students who became known as the Little Rock Nine walked up to the front of Central High to enroll in school. They were turned away by the National Guard, who had been called out by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. “Blood will run in the streets,” said Faubus, “if Negro pupils should attempt to enter Central High School.” A mob seethed out front. The man who led the Nine up to the lines of the National Guard on that fateful morning was the author's father, a white Presbyterian pastor.

Warriors Don't Cry book jacket

Warriors Don't Cry
By Melba Pattillo Beals
Using the diary she kept as a teenager and through news accounts, Beals relives the harrowing year when she was selected as one of the first nine students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957.

White is a State of Mind: A Memoir
By Melba Pattillo Beals
After risking her life as one of the "Little Rock Nine" who integrated Central High School, Beals needed a place of refuge, and thought she would find it with a black family up north. Instead, circumstances took her to California - and into the home of a white family. Suddenly Beals was surrounded by white faces, faces across the dinner table that looked hauntingly similar to those of the mobs that had sneered at her, snubbed her, and threatened her life. And in slowly coming to trust, and even love, these people, she learned a new definition of family - and of freedom.

Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
By Thomas J. Sugrue
Setting the record straight about the struggle for racial equality in the North, Sugrue delivers an epic, revelatory account of the abiding quest for justice in states from Illinois to New York, and of how the intense northern struggle differed from and was inspired by the fight down South.


Ceremony book jacket

Big Girls Don't Cry
By Connie Briscoe
Born into a comfortable Washington, D.C., home, Naomi Jefferson leads a life that is only occasionally marred by racism. As a teenager in the 1960s, her biggest concern centers around virginity. But all that changes when her older brother, Joshua - who seems destined for greatness - is killed in a tragic car accident on his way to a civil rights demonstration. Now the rift between black and white America becomes much too personal, and Naomi embarks on a journey to honor her brother's legacy - and to find herself.

Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement: An Anthology
By Margaret Earley Whitt
These twenty-three stories give a voice to the nameless, ordinary citizens without whom the movement would have failed. From bloody melees at public lunch counters to anxious musings at the family dinner table, the diverse experiences depicted in this anthology make the civil rights movement as real and immediate as the best histories and memoirs. Each story focuses on a particular, sometimes private, moment in the historic struggle for social justice in America.

For Children

Delivering Justice book jacket

Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights
By James Haskins; Illustrator Benny Andrews
A respected biographer teams up with an acclaimed artist to tell the story of a mail carrier, who in 1961 orchestrated the Great Savannah Boycott and was instrumental in bringing equality to his Georgia community.

Heroes for Civil Rights
By David A. Adler; Illustrator Bill Farnsworth
Whether marching, speaking, or simply going to school, these brave men and women fought to advance social justice. Adler’s moving profiles and Farnsworth’s evocative paintings honor these American who risked their own lives for freedom.

Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader
ByAmy Polakow
Daisy Bates, NAACP coordinator, advocated for the right of the Little Rock Nine to attend Central High School in Arkansas. This biography describes Bates’ childhood in the rural South and her partnership with her husband, L.C. Bates, who established the Arkansas State Press in 1941. Their newspaper became the most influential black newspaper in the state. Author Polakow includes short descriptions of what became of the Little Rock Nine after graduation.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters