21st International Conference on Teaching and Learning


Presentation title:

Volume 3: Little Rock-53 Years Later-Some Additional Stories
Professor John Taylor

Abstract:  On April 25, 2009 a few hundred over 65 year old senior citizens from Little Rock Central High School celebrated their 50th reunion for a class that did not exist nor did they go to school nor did they graduate. FSCJ Professor, John Taylor, was there. Volume 1 two years ago focused on the 1957-1958 LRCHS crisis school year. Volume 2 last year focused on what happen the next year, 1958-1959, known as "The Lost Class of 59". Volume 3 will expand on several stories that changed (and/or damaged) the lives of several ‘kids’ at Central in 1957-1959.

Full Description:

When asked why he likes teaching and going to school everyday, John Taylor, FSCJ Professor, states:

“When you lose your health, you understand what you have taken for granted. When they take school from you, you realize the value of education, that education is a privilege and should not be taken for granted or wasted.”

On the weekend of April 24-25, 2009, the presenter joined several hundred of his classmates to celebrate a high school reunion of a class that never graduated, nor attended school in 1958-59. During that weekend, Arkansas historian, Dr. Sondra Gordy newest publication, “Finding the Lost Year: What Happened When Little Rock Closed Its Public School” was released at the President Clinton Library in Little Rock. This book documents for history that year and how it changed a community, 3665 students, 177 teachers, and their families forever.

In the final chapter titled “Afterward”, Dr. Gordy states “The general tendency of historians to dismiss the Lost Year as a footnote to the media-drenched Little Rock desegregation crisis of 1957-58 obscures its true significance...There was no one outcome for these young people-some became bitter over their loss and bitter toward those of another race, but some redirected themselves toward personal achievement and a higher vision.”

During his first reunion weekend in the last 40 years, the ‘Lost Class’ presenter spent time with two new friends whose lives were probably more changed (definitely lifetime altered or affected) than his own and this talk will focus on several stories which are now documented on his web site. Minnijean Trickey (Brown), one of the Little Rock Nine, was expelled from Central in 1957 and is now a Civil Right icon. Ralph Brodie, 1957-58 student body president, was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the first day of school and that interview made him (and his family) a target of hate that year. Both will visit the conference through Internet telephone during the question and answer conclusion.