Pulaski Technical College will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the integration of Central High School with a series of lectures, poetry readings, panel discussions and special events throughout the fall semester.
Events kick off Tuesday, Sept. 4, with a lecture about "The Little Rock Nine" by Spirit Trickey Rowan, a park ranger at the Central High Museum and the daughter of Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the nine black students who integrated Central High in 1957.
The college will celebrate Central High Pride Day on Sept. 25, the actual date of Central High's integration 50 years ago. At noon, Pulaski Tech faculty, staff and students will gather to proclaim the college's commitment to providing equal access and educational opportunities to all. Students can also sign a pledge "in honor of the Nine" to strive for personal and academic excellence.
The timing of the campus ceremony coincides with that a ceremony to take place on the front lawn of Central High School, one of the many commemorative events organized by the Central High Integration 50th Anniversary Commission.
"Pulaski Technical College and our students have the opportunity to maximize the moment in promoting and celebrating our diversity and common experiences on campus, in Little Rock and around Arkansas," said Mayo Johnson, a Pulaski Technical College instructor who chairs the Little Rock Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission. "Education will always be the key to our mutual success."
The college has also implemented a "Common Book" program, supported in part by a Target Store grant, that will incorporate the reading of Warriors Don't Cry. The book is a first-hand account of integrating Central High School written by Melba Patillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine.
The Common Book program, while new this semester at Pulaski Tech, has been successful on many college campuses. The book will be assigned reading for all students in College Seminar, a course required of students scoring below a 19 on the ACT and taking two or more developmental courses.
"The Common Book experience is just one way we're trying to reach out to students to increase their interest in reading, cultural history and current events," said Ann Fellinger, chair of College Studies at Pulaski Technical College. "Studies show that the more connected students are to their campus community, the more likely they are to stay in school and the greater their chances of success."
The following campus activities are free and open to the public. All events will take place in the R.J. Wills Lecture Hall, located on the second floor of the Campus Center on the college's main campus, 3000 West Scenic Drive, North Little Rock.
- Sept. 4: "The Little Rock Nine," 6 p.m., Spirit Trickey Rowan, park ranger at the Central High Visitors Center and daughter of Little Rock Nine member Minnijean Brown.
- Sept. 11: "1958: The Lost Year," 12 p.m., Dr. Sondra Gordy, associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas, who wrote her dissertation, "Teachers of the Lost Year," based on interviews with black and white former teachers of the period.
- Sept. 20: Landmark Desegregation Cases: 1895-2005, 6 p.m., Bob Glidewell, Pulaski Technical College paralegal instructor.
- Sept. 21-22: Pulaski Tech booth at Worldfest in MacArthur Park. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. www.rcdcworldfest.org
- Sept. 25: Central High Pride Day.
- Oct. 24: "From Jackie Robinson to Tiger Woods: How Sports Lead the Way for Integration in American Culture." 6 p.m., Brian Hight, Pulaski Technical College theatre arts instructor.
- Oct. 24: Poetry of the Civil Rights Era, 1 p.m., Antoinette Brim, Pulaski Technical College English instructor.
- Nov. 7: Success Strategies for Students of Color, 10 a.m., Dr. Glenn Anderson, the first deaf African-American to receive his Ph.D.
- Nov. 14: "From Hattie McDaniel to Halle Berry: The History of Integration in Hollywood," 6 p.m., Brian Hight, Pulaski Technical College theatre arts instructor.
A complete listing of official events planned by The Central High Integration 50th Anniversary Commission is available at www.arkansasglobecoming.com