As the 50th anniversary approaches, some new takes on the history of the desegregation crisis are emerging in time, authors hope, for the events in Little Rock next September.
At least two of the Little Rock Nine — Carlotta Walls LaNier and Minnijean Brown Trickey — have memoirs in the works, although it’s unclear if they’ll be published in time.
“It’s my story,” LaNier said. “There are nine different stories.”
Author and attorney Grif Stockley, who published a biography of Daisy Bates in 2005 and a chronicle of the 1919 Elaine Race Massacres in 1994, is now working on a broader history of race relations in Arkansas — from slavery to the present.
Historian Elizabeth Jacoway, who co-authored a book about the desegregation crisis in 1999, borrowed a biblical line to frame her next book, “Turn Away Thy Son: Little Rock, the Crisis That Shocked the Nation.”
With a slated released date by Martin Luther King Day 2007, Jacoway’s thesis, she says, is “that the larger context in which crisis developed was one of hysterical reaction to deep-seated Southern fear of giving black men access to white women.”
She discusses this theory through interviews with key players of the Central High crisis that she has collected since the 1970s.
“It’s designed to be very challenging,” Jacoway said. “You want a straight answer [but] it makes you realize there are many views and the truth is elusive.”