Rebecca Goodloe remembered not thinking too much of a blue book that held newspaper clippings and photos of her father, Terrence J. Roberts, desegregating Central High in 1957.
“It was sort of like a photo album almost,” she told a crowd at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Ron Robinson Theater. “I don’t think I knew what it was. I just knew it was part of our family.”
It was not until Roberts’ famous discussion with former Gov. Orval Faubus, on “Good Morning America,” that Goodloe realized the book was more than an heirloom.
“That was the first [time] I got what happened,” she said.
Goodloe was among eight other children of the Little Rock Nine who discussed their experience with learning about the legacy of their parents in an event sponsored by the Clinton School for Public Service and the Butler Center.
Matthew Patillo, son of Melba Pattillo Beals, remembered going to the library and pulling out his mother’s book “Warriors Don’t Cry” and thinking, ” ‘Oh, my Mom’s
His twin brother, Evan Pattillo, said Matthew then went up to Beals, showing her the book and said, “This looks just like you.”
“That is me, honey,” Evan said his mother told Matthew.
Bu, they were also quick to say that they considered them parents first.
“At the end of the day, they’re Mom and Dad,” said Evan.
There was a long discussion about whether the Little Rock Nine chose to tell their children all the details of their experience, and how memories are passed on.
“I don’t think he has any interest in having that conversation,” Goodloe said of whether Roberts shared the difficulty he experienced while integrating. “He would always talk about what should happen now.”
“I have learned more when the Nine get together and talk,” she said.
Multiple members mentioned the stress the Nine experienced losing their own childhoods and that leaving a mark.
“There’s a form of PTSD that comes with the pain they endured,” said MacKenzie Green, daughter of Ernest Green, explaining.
This idea of multiple generations stuck throughout the night; in terms of how both pain and hope are passed down.
One of the more poignant questions came when the Little Rock Nine were asked to question their children. The children of the Nine were asked if they would be strong enough to let their own children integrate a school.
Some said that knowing the history intimately made them know how hard it would be for a child.
“No, I don’t know if I’m that strong to watch my child go through that,” said Whitney LaNier, son of Carlotta Walls LaNier, saying that while his daughter was in kindergarten he, “sat in my car the entire time she was in class.”
Spirit Trickey, who is helping her mother, Minnijean Trickey, write a book, was one of the few who said she’d had long discussions with her mother about what occurred during the integration.
“My grandmother’s kitchen table became a site where we revisited this event,” Trickey said, as three generations — herself, her mother and her grandmother — discussed what happened. “I feel a great debt. I’m still trying to figure out how do I carry that forward”