Civil Rights Advocate Carlotta Walls LaNier Visit Leads UAlbany MLK Celebration

Carlotta Walls LaNier will headline the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Monday, Feb. 1 at UAlbany.

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 18, 2016) -- Carlotta Walls LaNier will be the keynote speaker for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Monday, Feb. 1 at the University at Albany. LaNier is the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of Black students who worked to integrate Little Rock High School over the objections of segregationist Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus -- a landmark event of the Civil Rights Movement.

The event, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Association, and University Auxiliary Services in collaboration with the New York State Writers Institute, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom on the University’s Uptown Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

In 1957, fourteen-year-old Carlotta Walls was the youngest Little Rock Nine member to integrate Central High School. She and eight other black students faced angry mobs, racist elected officials, and federal intervention by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was forced to send in the 101st Airborne to escort the Nine safely into the building. Little did she realize that day that this was the beginning of a journey that would challenge prevailing attitudes, break down barriers, and forever change the social landscape of America.

Overcoming her initial need to forget her turbulent past, LaNier has told her dramatic story for the first time in A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School, co-written with Liza Frazier Page in 2009. President Bill Clinton, who wrote the book’s foreword, called it a "wonderful book.... a story we all need to know."

Carlotta Walls Lanier 1957
Carlotta Walls LaNier was only 14-years-old when she and eight other students worked to integrate Little Rock High School over the objections of segregationist Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus -- a landmark event of the Civil Rights Movement.

A sought-after lecturer, LaNier has spoken all over the country at colleges and universities, women’s and African-American organizations, libraries and civic groups. After graduating from Little Rock Central High School in 1960, LaNier attended Michigan State University and graduated from Colorado State College—now the University of Northern Colorado, which has awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and on whose board of trustees she sits.

In addition to receiving the Congressional Gold Medal and the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, awarded to her as a member of the Little Rock Nine, Carlotta Walls LaNier is an inductee in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, Girl Scouts Women of Distinction and the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She serves as president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation, created to promote equality of opportunity for all, particularly in the field of education.

LaNier’s visit is the highlight of a month-long series of activities at UAlbany celebrating African American History.

Other events include:

  • Race, Love, and Labor… at UAlbany’s Art Museum, which features photography, artist books, and video by twenty artists who probe the complexities of contemporary life through intimate revelations and with unflinching candor. The exhibit, which runs from February 2 through April 2, is curated by Sarah Lewis, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
  • Eyes on Zora: The Life and Legacy of Zora Neal Hurston: A celebration of the life of Zora Neale Hurston, one of the preeminent writers of 20th century African-American literature. The series begins with a screening of “Their Eyes Were Watching God” with director Darnell Martin and literature scholar Emily Bernard at 7 p.m. on Jan. 29; and concluding with an American Palace Theatre performance of Zora! on Sunday, Jan. 31 in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center (PAC). The film screening is free and open to the public. Tickets for the theatre performance can be purchased from the PAC box office by calling (518) 442-3997.
  • Our Bodies, Our Histories: Coming Home to Ourselves: A bicentennial anniversary tribute to Sara Baartman, the ‘Hottentot Venus’ will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, at 6 p.n. in the Campus Center Ballroom. The event features a panel discussion with notied filmmaker Natalie Bullock Brown, UAlbany Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and author of Venus in the Dark Janell Hobson; poet Bettina Judd, and artist Nona Faustine Simmons, along with performances by Umoja, Black Theatrical Productions and Phenomenal Voices. The event is free and open to the public.
  • "Creative Expression, Compassion and Self-Worth: The Socialization of Race, Gender and the Body": Scholar/Educator Kyra Gaunt, author of The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double Dutch to Hip-Hop will give two lectures on Thursday, Feb. 11th at UAlbany on the intersection of music and cultural anthropology. The first will be held at 2:45 p.m. in the Standish Room of the Science Library. The second event will be held at 8 p.m. in Campus Center 375. Both events are free and open to the public.
  • Randall Horton and Jacqueline Jones LaMon, poets, at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16, in the University Art Museum. The visit, sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute in conjunction with the Race, Love and Labor… exhibit, features prominent poet Horton, whose most recent book, HOOK: A MEMOIR (2015), explores his downward spiral from student to drug addict, cocaine smuggler, and incarcerated felon. Upon release from prison Horton earned a Ph.D. in English at UAlbany. Jone LaMon is the author of the poetry collections Last Seen (2011), winner of the Felix Pollak Poetry Prize, and Gravity, U.S.A. (2006), and winner of the Quercus Review Poetry Series Award. She is the new president of Cave Canem, America’s leading Black poetry organization, committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of Black poets. The event is free and open to the public.

Several of the events are also partially supported through the University’s Diversity Transformation Fund. The program supports UAlbany’s Inclusive Excellence Initiative, UACCESS (UAlbany Collaboratively Creating Excellence, Scholarship, and Success), by providing funding to faculty and staff to support new and innovative activities and initiatives that model and indicate inclusiveness as a major goal, and impact the campus community by stimulating creativity and promoting the exchange of ideas, while enriching campus life.

For more information about events happening during Black History Month, visit the University’s events calendar.

RSS Link For more news, subscribe to UAlbany's RSS headline feeds

A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health,health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.