Brown Trickey was barely 16 when she was thrust to the forefront of the civil rights movement as one of nine African-American students selected to attend Central High following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision of 1954. The students were prevented from attending their first day of classes because the Arkansas National Guard, deployed by Gov. Orval Faubus, formed a blockade around the school. Days later, President Dwight Eisenhower intervened by ordering the 101st Airborne Division to escort the teenagers past the angry mob of protesters who had assembled.
During the school year, the Little Rock Nine were subjected to harassment and physical abuse by their white classmates. Brown Trickey, who was taunted, assaulted, and suspended twice, eventually transferred out of Central High.
In 1999, the Little Rock Nine were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress. That same year, Brown Trickey was appointed by President Bill Clinton as deputy assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior responsible for diversity, a position she held until 2001.
Minnijean Brown Trickey's life has been a powerful example of what one person can do to make the world a better place. Under the Clinton administration, she served for a time as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior responsible for diversity. Currently, she lives in Arkansas, and is continuing her work for civil rights and social equality. She is also working on her autobiography, tentatively entitled, Mixed Blessing: Living Black in North America.
- Return to Little Rock - A Seminal Moment in American Civil Rights and Education
As a living witness to history―and as an active participant who has helped shape it―Minnijean Brown-Trickey delivers a fascinating exploration of social change, diversity, and the battle against racism throughout the decades, from the beginnings of her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement to the present day. Unerringly hopeful but realistic, she is a stately speaker who helps today’s students understand both how far we have come and how far we still have to go in the battle for freedom and equality.