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A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  817 ratings  ·  133 reviews
When fourteen-year-old Carlotta Walls walked up the stairs of Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957, she and eight other black students only wanted to make it to class. But the journey of the “Little Rock Nine,” as they came to be known, would lead the nation on an even longer and much more turbulent path, one that would challenge prevailing attitudes, ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by One World/Ballantine (first published January 1st 2009)
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Women’s history month (2019) has reached its final week, and at this point I have read about a number of remarkable women with a few more books planned. Not all people planned on being remarkable. Some are ordinary people who just want to do right by their parents’ upbringing. Yet, it is the with the majority of ordinary people doing remarkable, and ordinary, acts that make up the patchwork of most societies. In her memoir A Mighty Long Way, Carlotta Walls LaNier takes readers back to 1957 ...more
Diane S ☔
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Thoughts soon.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If I were a high school history teacher, all my students would read this book. Lanier was the youngest of the Little Rock Nine—the nine black kids who went to Central high school after it was forcibly integrated. As a high-achieving, captain of this, queen of that 8th grader, when she heard that Central was opening to black kids, signing up was a no-brainer: it was a much better school, with much nicer equipment and labs, and it was closer to her house than the all-black-by-default high school. ...more
"... It will be a sad day for this country—both at home and abroad—if school children can safely attend their classes only under the protection of armed guards." --President Eisenhower

I grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and lived just outside of Little Rock for 7 years prior to leaving for graduate school. I never learned about the Little Rock Nine in school, be it elementary, high school or college.* When I was in my early 20s I befriended a new neighbor who happened to be a
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Carlotta Walls was one of the Arkansas Nine, the group of nine African American teens who endured taunts, threats and abuse to integrate the Little Rock School District. This is her memoir, focusing on her involvement in that historic battle. At a time that is seeing increased allegations of police violence against African Americans and the rise of hate groups in the U.S. and Europe, this is a story that needs to be told. I appreciated her story more than her writing.
Nandi Crawford
A childhood should be happy; Going to school, hanging with friends, learning and preparing for adulthood; But sadly for so many, it isn't. One of the best memoirs I have read was by one of the former Little Rock Nine Melba Patillo Beals detailing her life specifically as one of the first of nine young people to integrate Little Rock Arkansas' Central High School in 1957; I kind of wish that the others would do the same, but I can accept that some things you truly want to forget because it is so ...more
Mikey B.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a very riveting story of this young girl’s attendance at an all-white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. The abuse she experienced during her first year was horrible. The school actually closed after her first year - a belated victory for the white segregationists. She managed to complete her high school diploma after the school was re-opened.

This is the same school that President Eisenhower was forced to send in the 101st Airborne to allow nine African American students to attend.
Jennifer Mangler
I've read other books about the Little Rock Nine, and it surprises me that I can still be shocked by the organized hatred and bigotry the kids faced every single day. Those kids carried us all forward, and it disgusts me that we've been going backward in recent years. How have we let segregation become as big a problem as it was in the 1960s? Everyone should know Carlotta's story. That they don't is part of the problem.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
In 1957, 14 year old Carlotta Walls, along with eight other black students, excitedly decided to take advantage of the newly legislated opportunity to integrate into a white school in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was a bright student and wanted to have access to the best possible education, an opportunity that Central High School would offer. Not only that, she was also looking forward to making new friends and exchanging cultural ideas with her fellow white students. The reality became a ...more
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing

To a cocksure, cavalier, albeit grossly naïve, sixteen year old white boy in London, Kentucky/New Haven, Connecticut, 1957—a year of 15 McDonalds’ hamburgers and 10 french-fries; of newly-born rock-’n-roll, transistor radios and 45 rpm records; of Johnny Cash and Ferlin Husky; of Bill Haley, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley—was quite possibly the best year in the history of forever. To a fourteen year old black girl in Little Rock, Arkansas, however, it was quite
I must confess, the whole time Carlotta Walls LaNier was talking about her days at Central High School, I was thinking she should have quit and enrolled in the black high school. The black high school she would have gone to got less money from the state than Central High, but the teachers there were dedicated to educating their students, so they would succeed after high school. Moreover, she could have joined extra-curricular groups and gone to dances. More importantly, she would not have been ...more
Anna Ligtenberg
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
ISBN 034551100X - Books about Civil Rights have taken on new interest for me, especially with the election of Barack Obama, the death of civil rights warrior Senator Ted Kennedy, and the (hopefully) shifting view of race in this country. That was the reason I picked up this particular book. I got what I was looking for and much more.

Carlotta Walls Lanier begins her story years before she became famous as part of the Little Rock Nine. A short family history and her life story, up to age 14, lead
Tara Chevrestt
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
It took an incredible amount of courage to be one of those nine children that walked into Little Rock Central High School on that fateful day in 1957. It took even more courage to rehash it all and write a book about it. I barely had the courage to read it all. I grew upset quite often, Carlotta's story brought up memories of my own school years. The name calling, the jeers, being slammed into lockers or kicked, having someone walk behind you stepping on your heels, the teachers that look the ...more
Mar 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: black-studies
I just finished A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School by Carlotta Walls LaNier with Lisa Frazier Page. Carlotta was one of the Little Rock Nine. If that means nothing to you let me recount a little history: "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954),[1:] was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students, denying black children equal ...more
Sep 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bios-and-memoirs
After hearing a half-hour segment of NPR's Talk of the Nation (the radio show that gets me through the work week!) featuring Carlotta Walls LaNier of the Little Rock Nine, I was inspired to pick up her memoir at the library—A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School.

As a bit of a history lesson, the Supreme Court declared segregation unconstitutional in the 1954 case of Brown vs. Board of Education. When the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, was forced to integrate
Nicole (Reading Books With Coffee)
This was such a wonderful book! And add it to the very short list of books that have made me cry.

This is the 2nd book I've read that was written by someone who attended Little Rock Central High- the other one was Warriors Don't Cry.

Her reason for going to Central High was because she wanted to go to one of the top high schools in the country, and not because of the history it would make. It was clear throughout the whole book that education was important to her and her family. Some of the
Oct 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book i read for my first quarter Good Reads Project was A Mighty Long Way by Carlotta Walls,I believe the author's purpose for writing this book was to inform the readers of how serious racism was after World War II. The author also describes her life and all of the obstacles she had to overcome, just in order to get an education. Obstacles that Carlotta had to rise above included racist people continuously taunting her, and the constant disrespect that she received from the white people of ...more
Melissa Andrews
I gave this four stars because the story - the experience of being one of the Little Rock Nice - is awesome. The book itself isn't a great literary work, but that's not what it's meant to be. It's meant to try to give you a glimpse of what it was like to be one of those nine young people who integrated Little Rock Central High School - and it does that wonderfully. It is well written and keeps the flow going.

Carlotta Walls will be going to high school shortly after the Supreme Court decided
Carlotta Walls was a bright, motivated student of color living in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. At that time, all schools in Little Rock were segregated. However, after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, schools in the South were ordered to integrate. Carlotta was offered an opportunity to attend Little Rock’s Central High School—one of the best in the nation. In hopes of receiving a better education Carlotta registered to attend Central.

Little did she realize the impact
Carlotta Walls LaNier was one among the nine black students who entered Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957. The nine came to be known as the "Little Rock Nine", and then changed history. Just to get into the high school involved the calling in of federal security (the governor of Arkansas himself tried to prevent the students from entering.) This is Carlotta's memoir of her experiences and then life afterwards. I found A Mighty Long Way quite moving indeed; Carlotta and the ...more
Aug 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Weavre by: Amazon Vine
Absolutely wonderful!

Carlotta Walls just wanted to get the best education she could. That the best local school happened to be Little Rock's Central High School, that she happened to be black, and that it happened to be 1957 didn't mean she wanted to make history. But, make history she did, as one of the famed Little Rock Nine.

This is Carlotta's story, told in her own words, including everything from the narratives of the generations before her right up to the present day. For a woman who
Mary Sisney
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Since this book was published in 2009, it ends triumphantly with LaNier enjoying how far we have come since she and the other eight black high school students faced tremendous abuse in order to integrate a southern high school. I wonder how the book would end if she were writing it now. She would probably have to change the title because clearly we haven't come as far as most of us who experienced the Jim Crow South thought we had in November, 2008. Ms. Lanier's narrative of her journey is ...more
Kate Lawrence
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
This memoir makes a powerful statement of the high price often paid by those who try to carry the human race forward to greater fairness and inclusiveness. Not many high school students would have been able to withstand the taunts and overt hostility of their classmates to the degree that Carlotta Walls faced when she was among the first African-American students to integrate a previously all-white Southern school in the 1950's. Furthermore, her account reveals that the time of continual ...more
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A Mighty Long Way
Carlotta Walls Lanier
336 pages

Can you imagine being the first of many to walk into a school with your books in your hand, being spit on, and called bad names? You may think that would never happen, but it did to Carlotta Walls Lanier. She was the first to conquer segregation on her journey to justice at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. In this book, you will learn about what it feels like to be a little African-American girl entering the world of integration. Along
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book while visiting the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Arkansas. Like many others, I was familiar with the iconic images and stories associated with the school's integration in 1957, but even after spending several hours inside the visitor's center, I wanted to continue reading more about the stories that surrounded the events at the school that year.

I loved Carlotta's story and her honesty regarding the pain she had to face in revisiting her past.
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating. I remember the news of the 9 black students who were the first to integrate Little Rock Central High School but I had never thought about what their experience would have been. Carlotta LaNier first described her growing up, a story which resonated with me despite the facts that my circumstances, as a Northern white girl in private schools, were totally different. I was surprised at the reasons Carlotta wanted to go to the white school. She wasn't trying to start a ...more
Carlotta was one of the 9 students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was the youngest and the quietest at the time. Carlotta did not want to relive or think about the hate and hardships she encountered while in high school. However, as time passed she began to talk about that time, which led to the writing of this book.

The first year at the school was the toughest in regards to her teachers and fellow-students, but the last year was when her house was dynamited by
Barb Terpstra
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was about the Little Rock 9, and the racial upheaval that took place during the desegregation of Central High. I am sad to confess my ignorance of history. I was not aware that the school was closed for a whole school year to both black and white students. This first person account was factual and interesting. The hurt to the heart is expressed in this sentiment: "Some days I was so mentally exhausted that I didn't have the energy to guard my heart. In those low moments, when the ...more
Matt Fitz
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having read books ABOUT the Little Rock Nine as well as taking my own children to tour Central High School and related sites, it was insightful to read a first-person account of one of those children: to walk in her shoes. It's written simplistically enough for young readers (and includes study questions at the end for classroom use). Besides sharing those challenging high school years, she intertwines stories before, during and after that help put a context on her story that i hadn't though of ...more
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved reading this book, it is such an interesting first person account of a turbulent time in our not-so distant past. I am loving even more teaching this book. My students are reading the 14th Amendment, Plessy v. Ferguson, and really coming to some deep seated and complex understandings of race relations in America. Seriously, I am so excited about this one, don't miss it!
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Carlotta Walls LaNier made history as the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957.

The oldest of three daughters, Carlotta Walls was born on December 18, 1942, in Little Rock to Juanita and Cartelyou Walls. Her father was a brick mason and a World War II veteran, and her mother was a