Carlotta Walls LaNier of “Little Rock Nine” Speaks at Ultimate Medical Academy During Black History Month
Tampa, Fla. – February 25, 2019 – In celebration of Black History Month, Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) proudly welcomed Carlotta Walls LaNier to share with its team members her story as one of the first black students who attempted to go to Little Rock Central High School, which was a segregated, all-white institution at the time.
Through the late 1950s, Arkansas remained highly segregated, and the morning of September 4, 1957, LaNier and eight other students organized by the NAACP arrived at the school to enroll – braving an angry mob of white protesters – only to be turned away by Arkansas National Guardsmen under the order of segregationist Governor Orval Faubus.
A legal battle and a judge’s order removed the National Guard, and LaNier and the other eight students went back on September 23 under police escort into the school through 1,000 angry protesters, only to be spirited away a few hours later under police protection amid chaos and rioting outside.
“Remember that I was only 14 at the time, a young girl in a new dress my family bought for the occasion from a real department store downtown,” LaNier said. “My father lost every job he had after then, but we persevered.” A presidential order taking command of the National Guard meant soldiers reversed roles, and instead of blocking the students, escorted them to school in an armed convoy with 1,200 troops bivouacked on campus.
LaNier graduated from high school and college and went on to a successful career with the YWCA, and founded her own real estate brokerage firm, LaNier and Company.
“Fostering greater diversity and inclusion is key to building a society in which everyone has the opportunity to excel. That’s something we want for our students, our team members and our community,” said Brian Fitzpatrick, UMA Senior Director of Operations Improvement and head of UMA’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. “Hearing stories from others, like Mrs. LaNier, who have experienced and risen above extreme exclusion helps to educate, open hearts and open minds. We are grateful for the time and wisdom she shared with our team members and the opportunity we had to learn from her.”
Founded in 1994 and based in Tampa, UMA is an accredited, nonprofit educational institution with the mission of equipping and empowering students to excel in healthcare careers. With more than 55,000 alumni, 14,000 students and 2,000 team members nationwide, UMA offers diploma and degree programs through hands-on learning at its main campus in Clearwater, Florida as well as content-rich, interactive programs through its online campus.