Carlotta LaNier

In 1957, at age 14, Carlotta Walls LaNier and eight other students integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. This act of courage and defiance became the catalyst for change in the American educational system. The Little Rock Nine, as they would eventually be called, became ‘foot soldiers’ for freedom. Concerns for family safety and continued employment persuaded the family to move to Denver in 1962. In 1968 Lanier earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and accepted a position at the Denver YWCA. Since then, she has married, raised two children, founded her own real estate company, and worked for 30 years as a real estate broker, currently with Cherry Creek Realtors. In 1997 the Little Rock Nine returned to Central High School for a fortieth anniversary celebration. In a symbolic and emotional gesture, the school’s principal, the mayor, the governor, and the President of the United States opened the school’s doors, which had been blocked by the Arkansas National Guard in 1957. In 1999 at the White House, members of Congress and the President bestowed upon Lanier and the other member of the Little Rock Nine the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, for their sacrifice and contribution to the cause of equality.

VIDEO: Carlotta talks about being one of the Little Rock Nine children pioneering the desegregation of Arkansas schools