YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A woman who played a vital role in the desegregation of schools is in the Valley this week.
Minnijean Brown Trickey was a part of the Little Rock Nine.
In 1957, nine African American students were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School. They were the first minorities to enter into the all-white school.
On Sept. 4, 1957, the first day of classes, Governor Orval Faubus called the Arkansas National Guard to the school to block the nine students from entering.
Protestors lined up outside opposing the integration of black and white students. Some, even becoming violent.
In late September, President Dwight Eisenhower would send in federal troops to escort the students into the school.
This was the first time black and white students would learn side by side. Though, it came with its challenges. The nine students regularly faced bullying and physical harassment from other students.
Of the nine was Minnijean Brown.
“It’s really a pleasure for me to go into a schoolroom and see cultural variety, that’s a gift. That’s a gift that broadens our thoughts, broadens our minds,” Trickey said.
Every October she comes to Youngstown and works with Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past. This year, she was a speaker at the non-violence rally downtown.
“I come here because I love those kids. I’ve seen them thrive and succeed and this initiative of the non-violence week is one of the things,” she said.
Monday, she was at Flambeau’s Live on Market Street for the “Mingle with Minni” event. It was a way for her to socialize and get to know members of the community.
The event was also a fundraiser for Sojourn to the Past. The proceeds will help students who will embark on a 10 day journey where they will learn about the history of the civil rights movement.
“When you read your history book, you’re reading what somebody else wrote about what happened. When she’s there, you are hearing from the source, exactly her experience and what happened. So, it’s a wonderful opportunity and amazing experience,” said Penny Wells, Mahoning Valley Sojourn director.
Trickey said of all the Sojourn to the Past locations in the country, the students from Youngstown have done a great job putting their lessons into actions.
“Over the almost 20 years, we’ve taken at least 10,000 students to sites in the South. The most comprehensive, best executed, best thought out project for social justice action is the Youngstown students,” Trickey said.
Trickey will be visiting local schools throughout the rest of the week where she will be speaking with students, giving them a first-hand history lesson.