This book, by Carlotta Walls LaNier, should be required reading for all students, as classroom studies of the true impact of the struggle for racial equality clearly are inadequate in portraying the true trials and prejudices blacks faced during the Civil Rights period... and surely still face. A Mighty Long Way is Ms. LaNier's first-hand account of one of the most turbulent and significant eras in this country's struggle for civil rights for all.
As one of the Little Rock Nine, Ms. LaNier documents the emotional and personal side of being one of the famous nine black students to be the first integrated into an all-white school, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her portrayal of her dedicated family, the nine brave students, and an anxiety-laced adolescence is heart-wrenching, for the simple reason that Ms. LaNier was nothing more than an ambitious, gifted student, who wanted the best possible education available. She never intended on becoming a symbol of the struggle for racial equality in the very highly-charged Civil Rights era, nor was she comfortable with that role, once it was thrust upon her.
What comes through most vividly in her gripping account is the terrible emotional toll resulting from the injustices inflicted upon her and the other 8 students.
Tessa was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Ms. LaNier at Colorado Mountain College, and having read the book, myself, I wish I could have attended, as well. It is pleasing to note that the event was sold out, a testament to slowly improving awareness of the need for equality in this nation and all around the globe, for all minorities.
I, for one, will treasure the signed book that came home from that evening. It was courageous of the author to write it and speak about it, but infinitely more courageous of her to live it. I highly recommend it to all ages.