An interactive app preserves the Little Rock Nine’s experience from 60 years ago when they attempted to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School.
The Little Rock Central High School Memory Project is an oral history program run by students, teachers and community sponsors. They are preserving the history of Elizabeth Eckford’s famous path from the northeast corner of Little Rock Central High School’s lawn to the bus bench south of the school with an app that allows listeners to hear her story while walking the same steps outside the school.
Eckford was one of the nine students who integrated Central High in 1957. She was spat on and bullied as she tried to attend her first day of school. She had made herself a new dress for that day and was so excited she couldn’t sleep the night before. She thought along with others that the presence of the Arkansas National Guard would keep her safe. However, as she approached the school from the northeast corner, she was turned away. She walked south, alone, while the crowd screamed and spat at her. She finally made it to the bus bench where a white woman helped her onto a bus. Her dress was soaked in spit, and she walked that path over and over again years later, to deal with the stress.
The current Central High students showed a prototype of the experience to the public through a walk and reading of the script featured on the app. Visitors read each line, which detailed the optimism of the Little Rock Nine for their first day of school, contrasted to the events that followed.
“It’s impressive,” said John Coffin, who visited the site. He said that the experience made it easier for him to understand what Ecdkford’s walk was like.
Students who work on the Memory Project became involved to learn more about their high school.
“The school doesn’t focus much on its history, which is part of why I joined this project,” said Julia Greer, a senior.