Civil rights icon visits Alfriston College

By Tema Hemi
  • Auckland

Civil rights activist Minniejean Brown-Trickey, a member of the Little Rock Nine, told her story to students of Alfriston College today.

Minniejean is 74-years-old and it has been more than sixty years since those historical events took place at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. 

Being escorted by heavily armed officers just to attend school was an experience Brown-Trickey will never forget.

She says, "It was quite a momentous event both for me and the world apparently because the images beamed across the world and we got a great response but it was about bullying in the most horrific way- and hatred".

Brown-Trickey has traveled the whole world to educate people on civil rights and says there is a common goal all indigenous people share. 

She says, "Here in New Zealand the indigenous people are talking about the same thing that people of other parts of the world are talking about- who has rights to the land, whether or not we want oil spills, mining, all those things that destroy our environment.  So I'm pleased to want to support those actions on the part of the Māori".

The Marvel blockbuster movie Black Panther has a narrative that also links to the Black Panther movement of the 1950s. 

Professor Clarence Lusane says, "Most of the super heroes that we see in the movies are white and it was really important to have a black super hero like Black Panther. It's really inspiration for our kids back in the United States and the also because the Black Panther party was one of the most important organisations during the twentieth century for African Americans who wanted to draw the link between the two stories".

Today's presentation has helped one student of Alfriston College to better understand issues pertaining to his own people.

Lloyd Avele Tumi Huh says, "For me its significant to the Pacific Islands like a lot of our sails for navigation boats and stuff are all in museums all around the world and nothing is in our own museums, we don't know nothing about them.  How wonderful it would be if our people had our own resources, how empowering that would be".

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation nearly half of all hate crimes committed in America have to do with race. 

Lusane says, "The main message is that you should be involved. That we all have a responsibility whereever we're at, where we're at in society, where we're at in the world to try and make things better".

Despite her horrific experiences, Brown-Trickey says, "The experience I had when I was fifteen made me a more compassionate person, made me a permanent activist, an agitator for the rights for all people".