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tv   Reel America Nine From Little Rock 1964  CSPAN  October 1, 2017 9:40am-10:01am EDT

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together and made it work. >> you can watch the entire interview sunday night at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. eastern only on american history tv here on c-span 3. week, american history tv's reel america brings you public affairs films from the 20th century. nine from little rock is a 1964 u.s. information agency some -- film narrated by jefferson thomas, one of the nine african-american students who in 1957, and rolled in little rock, arkansas's all-white central high school. arkansas's governor prevented the students from attending classes until the president sent -- president eisenhower sent 1000 troops and guards to restore order and enforce school desegregation. in the film, mr. thomas and several others of the little rock nine reflect on their experience, life beyond high
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school and hopes for the future. the film won an academy award for documentary short subject. ♪ [video clip] ♪ >> where do you begin? where do you look? like an ancient battlefield, the ground is silent though people still move in familiar places. now on this field, negro and
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white run together remembering how it was in little rock, arkansas in 1957. perhaps it is best for those today to look or they are going and not where they have been. when you are a dark man in a country where the negro is demanding more and more an equal chance, you have the right to look back to discover if you are really moving forward or if the world is just moving beneath your feet. i have a special reason for looking back. my name is jefferson thomas and i'm one of the nine of little rock. ♪ there is nothing strange in seeing american children walking to school on a september morning but this was a special morning in a special part of america, a
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place where negro children had never gone to school before. ♪ >> hatred is easier to organize. than understanding. foundwas a minority that toto their advantage bring hate to little rock in 1957. while we watched, the white children went to school, and we stood outside. ♪
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we had been taught we were a nation under law, and the law of said segregation was wrong. now we waited to see if this had meaning. or were just words in a book, idle talk in a classroom. on september 27, 1957, president eisenhower sent 1000 men of the united states army to carry out the law. the supreme court of the united states had said the entire strength of the nation may be used to enforce the security of all rights and trusted by the constitution and that included my right and the rights of eight other negro americans who wanted to go to central high school in little rock, arkansas. we were terrence, thelma, elizabeth, ernest greene,
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carlotta, and gloria ray. and we were going to school again. obviously, in this town of 100,000, there were many who did not like what was happening. as we looked at the soldiers, we knew there must the millions of others who thought we represented something important. ♪ when the doors closed behind us that day, it was both an and and
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-- an end, and a beginning. from that moment on, we would be watched not only by those who look at us as strangers but by those who wondered if we would live up to our new opportunity. i remember standing there wondering how history would judge us. [bells] it has been seven years since that first day. what has happened? where have we gone? what have we done? >> i was the oldest of the nine and perhaps the least serious. i came here to southern illinois university after graduation. at first, i thought i wanted to be a nurse but i was too outgoing for that. now i know i want to work in a newspaper and be a journalist and to write. more than anything else in the world, i want to write. this year, i took a job at the university newspaper and worked as a reporter, 20 hours per week
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after classes. there is no substitute for writing under pressure. you have to get the story out and to make it good. i remember the reporters who came from all over the world to cover the story of little rock. to be able to take a story like that and put it into words is something i have always wanted to be able to do. someday, i'm going to write a book about what happened in little rock. first, got to learn more about writing and the world. you can do that best in school. teachers like professor simon have helped me grow up. he is a man who makes you want to go to school forever. i'm going to work after request -- after i graduate. i have applied to newspapers and one has offered me a job. ♪
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i'm going to miss this university. the friendships i have made here are long and deep. the things i have learned here have helped me come to terms with myself. for the first time in my life, i have begun to understand why americans act the way they do. i know now some americans have a fear of the negro, a fear born from a way of life that has been dead in this country since the end of slavery. that's what the mob in little rock was afraid of, that didn't -- and that the negro who had done so much with no chance might do so much more with an equal chance.
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[bell rings] >> it has been four years since i stood in this hallway and watched the faces moving from class to class. none of this would seem strange to us now for we all went on to colleges where there were more whites the negroes. except elizabeth, she went to central state college in ohio. >> central state was founded as an all negro college about 100 years ago. today, like most american schools, it is a mixture of negro and white. when i entered high school, i thought i wanted to be a lawyer and then a teacher and now, like most students, i haven't quite decided what i want to be. the world is a big place and when i go out into it, i want to be sure i go in the right direction.
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if it had not been for that morning in september, 1957, i could have gone into law or education and not thought much about it. i was frightened that morning. i learned a great deal about people. not only about the people who were there, but about the people who were not there. like the politician who encouraged the mob, like the thousands who suffered with me and wrote to me to tell me so. while i waited, i heard voices speak out against us and i saw -- against intolerance and i saw grown men turn their heads in shame from the camera. [singing]
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[cheering] [singing] >> central state is a negro college that opened its doors to whites only 17 years ago. today, 20% of the students are white and their our students who are against integration. the negro is like most americans, possessing no monopoly and hoping that this will not be confused.
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>> four years ago, a negro walked through this hall in fear. some of the hate outside had come inside. there were a few who tried to impose their will on the many. when we went up a stairway, we hung onto the railing. >> can i help you? >> i'm looking for ms. poindexter's room. >> she is in room 214. >> thank you very much. >> anytime.
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>> thelma used to say the problems we had getting into this school were worth it, just to be able to take courses from some of the teachers. it's not surprising so many students like thelma wanted to go into teaching. >> i graduate this year from southern illinois university at carbondale. going to college is a tradition in my family. that's why i applied for central. i wanted a good high school education. i wanted the best training i could get before i entered college. aspirations are very personal things but i think i can state mine simply -- i love to teach and i love children. children are happy, moody, difficult, and wonderful. they accept me for what i am.
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after i finished college, i went to apply for teaching and little rock. maybe someday at central high i . i wonder what it will be like. >> thelma, carlotta and i had ms. dunn. none of us had seen a school with so much equipment before. i think it was the equipment that first gave ernie the impression he wanted to be an engineer but i am glad he changed his mind. ♪ >> after i leave michigan state university, i will work in the field of civil rights as a leader and organizer. even in the northern states, you will find pockets of discrimination like you do all
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over the world. there is a tide rising against it and i want to be part of it. [singing] >> i came to michigan state to study engineering. three years ago, i changed my mind and decided i would rather work with people than with machines. under professor david got leave, i received my that sloot degree -- my bachelor degree in sociology. next week i will receive my masters. i am convinced that a white american can never fully understand what motivates the negroes desire for equality. but for white americans, they are becoming more concerned especially my generation and that makes tomorrow worth dreaming about.
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[bell tolling the hour] the american negro must protest and he must also build understanding by searching for the truth. the truth in science is becoming tools for truth in relations. for the past two years, i have been compiling data on the aspirations of negro and white children in a segregated community. today, we are capable of getting answers that have real meaning, that carry the power of fact against those who would exploit rumor and prejudice. my research is just one part in a quiet revolution taking place in america.
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it's not alone a revolution in technology but a revolution in thinking. a revolution that says man, no matter how humble his birth, what color his skin, must be permitted to go as far as his mind and aspirations will take him. >> ernie was the first of us to graduate from central. carlotta and i were the last. we were the class of 1960. carlotta goes to denver university in colorado. she is a good student and she likes the high mountains out there. gloria ray is a senior at the illinois institute of tech -- of technology. this year she receives her degree in chemistry. terrence roberts is studying for his degree in business administration at the city
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college of los angeles. melba married early and was not in college over one year before she became a housewife. me, i take an exam to become a certified public accountant which means i'm supposed to be qualified to keep track of profits and losses. i'm not sure i know enough to say what all this adds up to. i have not counted all the victories since that first day we went to school here. i know there has been at least nine. ♪ in little rock, there is a slow bridge taking shape over the chasm of intolerance and ignorance. it is a bridge that will be built by us and our children.
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before it's finished, we will have our problems. but if little rock taught us nothing more, it taught all americans that problems can make us better, much better. ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> interested in american history tv? visit our website history. you can view our schedule, preview upcoming programs and watch college lectures, museum tours and more. american history tv at >> next, former president bill
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clinton gave the keynote address at an event marking the anniversary of the integration of the little rock central high school. it is in the school auditorium and there are eight of the little rock central nine. president eisenhower said the airborne to little rock to escort the students on september 25, 1957. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our distinguished guest for today's commemoration program, little rock city manager, bruce t. moore. with our 60th anniversary steering committee.


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