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Then and now 

Two excerpts from “A Mighty Long Way” by Carlotta Walls LaNier

'A MIGHTY LONG WAY': LaNier's book.
  • 'A MIGHTY LONG WAY': LaNier's book.

On the night of Feb. 9, 1960, Carlotta Walls' family home was bombed, a crime for which her own father was a suspect and for which her friend, Herbert Mont, was jailed. In a chapter entitled, “An Explosive Night,” she recounts that horrific experience and seeks to exonerate Mont.

 

“M

y gut was telling me that this was no accident. Someone had deliberately tried to tear my home apart. My eyes roved the room as if I were an investigator. Something had clearly exploded, but there wasn't a visible hole anywhere. Through the smoke, I could see that the rest of the room, thank God, had remained intact. It didn't take long to connect the dots. Mr. And Mrs. Bates had had crosses burned in their yard and a brick thrown through their window when tensions over Central were at their hottest. And though I'd paid only scant attention to the Labor Day bombings, it all seemed relevant to me now. Could the segregationists have come after me in my home, just when it seemed my battle was almost over?”

 

n On the night of Obama's victory:

 

“W

hat a long journey it had been from Little Rock and Central to this moment.

When I climbed those steps at Central, flanked by federal troopers on that September morning more than fifty years ago, I was just a fourteen-year-old girl doing what felt right for me. In time, I would come to understand the greater good — that my eight comrades and I were helping to start a journey sure to outlast any of us. But even with that knowledge, I could not imagine a future as spectacular as this. I could not imagine that I would live to see an African-American — born of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas — pick up that journey and chart it successfully all the way to the Oval Office.”

 

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