An Interview with Spirit Rowan by Sarah Rose Martin
From Little Rock Central High Memory Project
|Interviewer:||Sarah Rose Martin|
|Relationship to Interviewer:||Family Friend|
|Setting of Interview:||Phone|
|Setting of Story:||Central High School|
|Focus of Story:||Racial/Ethnic|
|Central Figure:||African American/Caucasian|
Spirit Trickey-Rowan, a well known citizen from Little Rock, was interviewed by me on Wednesday, November 29, 2006. I interviewed her by phone. I happened to pick this particular person because she is the daughter or Minnijean brown-Trickey, one of the Little Rock Central nine. Spirit also has much knowledge of the Little Rock crisis in 1957 because she works at the museum. I trust and know Spirit will have good details to tell me about the Civil Rights movement and that is why I chose her for my interview.
To begin the conversation, I greeted Spirit and began to ask her questions. I asked her what she knew of the incident of the Little Rock Central Nine Crisis in 1957. Spirit pretty much gave me an overall summary for the story with some quotes and feelings her mother, Minnijean, felt during the incident. She began with telling me about the year of 1954. In 1954, segregation was the law, until the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court Case. They changed this because it had a negative impact on black students and they noticed the problems with segregated schools. Teachers needed more pay and African American students needed an education.
Three years later, the plan to desegregate came into action. The year before that, in 1956, Hall and Horace Mann were built. Hall was built for white students and Horace Mann was built for the blacks. They wanted to desegregate because, for one, Central was the most beautiful high school and it had more students graduating and going to college. As Spirit said, They wanted to know what they were missing.
Minnijean, the mother of Spirit, actually came from Horace Mann. She wanted to go to Central because it was in walking distance of her home, she had friends who wished to go there, and she was seeking for a better education.
Spirit continued with the detailed story of the crisis of 1957. The plan actually started off with several African American students. Then, the court brought it down to 17 because of the bad grades and bad conduct of the students. Then, it was brought down to only nine because the court limited their extra-curricular activities and parents were being threatened of losing their jobs. All the kids were thinking was, Hopefully they will accept us.
Governor Faubus then called in the National Guard to stand outside of Central High. Then, a young lawyer by the name of Thorogood Marshall paired up with Daisy Bates to remove the guard. On September 23, 1957, the police had control of that day at Central. They actually took the nine students through the back of the school into their classrooms. The teacher wanted them out because it caused too much chaos, so the police drove their cop car into the school with a mob right there on the vehicle the whole time. Spirit quoted her mother by saying; it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. Then, on the 25th of September, President Eisenhower sent the 111th Air Borne under Federal order to stand outside the school and walk the black students around the campus.
School went on and Minnijean was suspended in December for dropping chili on boys at lunch because they would not let her pass for they had their legs in the way. She then came back, and in February, she left the school. A group of white girls followed her to the third floor and one picked up her purse and hit Minnijean in the head. Minnijean the called them white trash. She finished her high school years in New York. The students were treated cruel by majority of the white students, but some were nice also.
The next question I asked Spirit was her opinion of the whole problem. Stupid, she said. Spirit has heard the nine students talk several time sand she said, Personally, as sad as it was, she never heard any of them say that they regret what they did. To Spirit, and I as well, it enabled us to go to school with other races today and choose the school we wish to attend. It also shows There has been progress. Ironically enough, she works now where her mother was turned down of her rights and education.
The last and major question of our interview is what she thinks should be done to stop all Civil Right problems in our lives today. Spirit told me that a few weeks ago she was interviewing Jesse Jackson. She asked him the say question as I asked her for she also wished to know. Jesse told her, Work on your character. Spirit agreed and understood what he meant. She says Character means something. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Also she believes to get an education. Because we are able to, we should take advantage of that. The Little Rock nine made it for us to go there as one and get an education to further our future.
Even though Spirit maybe young and did not suffer through the crisis, she still is knowledgeable about it all. She is trying to carry on what her mother stands for equal rights for all people. Spirit has been elected for the spoken person of Central High School and this allowing her to keep up the family tradition. All she is try to do is educate people on the incident and tell her mother's side of the story. Along with her husband, Travis Rowan, a.k.a. Tre Day, they try to spread the words of equality for all people and give back to our community.