Saturday, January 28, 2023

Little Rock Nine activist to speak at UNCW for MLK celebration

UNCW will welcome keynote speaker Minnijean Brown-Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine, to Kenan Auditorium. (Courtesy photo)

WILMINGTON — As parades wrap Monday to honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the University of North Carolina Wilmington is planning its commemoration on campus midweek.

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, 7 p.m., UNCW will welcome keynote speaker Minnijean Brown-Trickey to Kenan Auditorium. Brown-Trickey will speak in honor of the legacy of civil rights and social justice in education, the theme of UNCW’s MLK celebration. 

“[W]e invite the public to listen to one of our civil rights icons whose legacy of integration and self-defense in Little Rock, Arkansas, had a lasting impact on school integration throughout the country,” Sean Palmer, director of UNCW’s Upperman African American Cultural Center, said in a press release.

One of the first Black students to enter Little Rock Central High School after desegregation, Brown-Trickey was a part of the Little Rock Nine. Upon their attempted entry into school on Sept. 2, 1957, the governor at the time, Orval Faubus, ordered the National Guard to block it, claiming it was for their safety.

The students attempted to gain entry into the school for three weeks, met by angry mobs and escorted by police.

A federal judge ordered the removal of the National Guard, but on Sept. 25, upon the pleas of then-mayor Woodrow Mann that President Dwight Eisenhower federalized the National Guard and sent U.S. Army troops to the scene to protect the students.

Still, they faced harassment, bullish behaviors, and were threatened daily.

The group was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1999.

Brown-Trickey has had a career in social work and government administration, as well as engaged in numerous speaking events.

Also performing at her talk will be the Williston Youth Choir.

The event is free but tickets are required, available here or at the Kenan Box Office from noon to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Two tickets are allowed per individual.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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