CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF SCHOOL INTEGRATION IN LITTLE ROCK

Summit Looks Back and Ahead

May 9, 2007

Leaders in public education, civil rights and social justice will convene in Little Rock, Ark. May 17-19 for the 7th biennial Daisy Bates Education Summit, named in honor of Bates, the civil rights leader, journalist, publisher and author, who advised the Little Rock Nine. Hosted by the NAACP Education Department, the event will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School and the important sacrifices made by the Little Rock Nine and the late Daisy Bates, who was also former president of the Arkansas State Conference of NAACP Branches.

Themed, "Little Rock Central High 1957: Honoring the Legacy, Facing the Challenge," this year's summit will honor the nine courageous African Americans, who as teenagers, bravely desegregated Little Rock Central High School under the guidance of Daisy Bates and the protection of soldiers from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division on orders from President Dwight Eisenhower.

"This summit is designed to inspire and promote activism toward the goal of educational equity and using that equity as a platform for building solutions to the challenges confronting us in public education," said NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes.

The summit will feature a variety of events that are free and open to the public. [All activities will be held at the Peabody Little Hotel unless noted].

On May 18 an opening panel discussion on “The Challenge of Accountability” will begin the day at 9:15 a.m. The panel will feature National Education Association President Reg Weaver, Philander Smith College President Walter Kimbrough, Arkansas Baptist President, Fitz Hill and others who will focus on the role advocacy groups and local residents should play in ensuring academic and life success for students of color. Special attention will be devoted to the issue of demeaning images and messages found in popular music, videos and movies and their effect on youth. The panel will be moderated by nationally known journalist and commentator George Curry. At 2 p.m. a public panel discussion on the U.S. Supreme Court and the future of desegregation in local communities gets underway at the Arkansas State Capitol.

On May 19, a special 'Little Rock Nine' public meeting themed "Remembering the Past, Looking to the Future" will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at Little Rock Central High School. The program will feature a discussion between Central High Students and members of the Little Rock Nine. Additionally, a special commemorative coin prepared by the U.S. Mint will be unveiled and presented to each of the Nine during this program.

The summit will also feature other workshops focusing on topics such as increasing parent and community involvement in schools, supporting black male achievement, and reversing dropout rates for students of color.

"The Daisy Bates Summit is an opportunity for education and social justice advocates to critically strategize around the NAACP's broad education reform agenda,” said NAACP National Education Director Michael T. S. Wotorson.

The 7th biennial Daisy Bates Education Summit is a collaboration of the NAACP Education Department and the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the National Park Service, and the City of Little Rock.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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