Member of ‘Little Rock Nine’ to speak at UNF’s MLK Scholarship Luncheon Feb. 6

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Carlotta Walls LaNier, civil rights icon and National Women's Hall of Fame inductee, will present “A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School” at the University of North Florida (UNF)’s 38th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 6.

The event will be held at the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, Grand Banquet Hall, Room 1044. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. The program begins at noon and will be followed by a book signing. 

According to UNF, LaNier was the youngest member of a group of African-American students, the “Little Rock Nine,” that integrated Arkansas’ Central High School in 1957 following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on segregation in Brown vs. Board of Education. 

She and the eight other students had to be escorted into the school by the 101st Airborne Division as they faced angry mobs, threats and physical danger. Little did she realize that this day was the beginning of a journey that would challenge prevailing attitudes, break down barriers and forever change the social landscape of America.  

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 — LaNier is an inductee in the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction, Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame 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. 

After graduating from Little Rock Central High School in 1960, LaNier attended Michigan State University and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado, which has awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Tickets for the event are $30 for individuals. Sponsorship packages include $500 for supporter-level corporate tables; $1,000, silver-level corporate tables; $2,500, gold-level corporate tables; and $5,000, platinum-corporate tables. Tickets can be purchased through the UNF Ticket Box Office online, in person at Roy Lassiter Hall, Building 8, Room 1100, or by calling (904) 620-2878. For more information visit www.unf.edu/icp/Martin_Luther_King_Jr__Annual_Luncheon.aspx.

For additional event questions, contact Lorna Bautista, UNF’s Intercultural Center for Peace (ICP) office manager, by email at lbautist@unf.edu or by calling (904) 620-2475.

This luncheon is an annual event, sponsored by the ICP, where an internationally acclaimed leader is invited to speak and teach about their philosophy of nonviolence to honor Dr. King’s ideals. The program also honors and provides scholarships to students whose leadership and service reflect King’s teachings. During the program, four student scholarships will be awarded.

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