Little Rock Central High School is honoring the Little Rock Nine’s 60th anniversary this week, and teachers from around the country are coming to Little Rock to participate. They aim to use their experiences and first-hand accounts gathered this week to take back with them to their students.
Joe De Pasqua, an American history teacher from Hartford, Connecticut who has been teaching about Little Rock for the past twenty years, will be in town this week for the ceremonies.
“My students are involved because they’re reading different books right now and I’m going to be giving them updates of what’s happening at Central High,” Pasqua said, in a phone interview. “I went ten years ago and it was just so amazing. I like to get first-hand accounts and share it with my students.”
The case surrounding the Little Rock Nine hits home for Pasqua because the mission of the Montessori school he teaches at is to bring in kids from all over the Hartford area. Hartford also had its own 1989 civil rights lawsuit, Sheff v. O’Neill, that dealt with school segregation.
“The schools in Connecticut were very segregated and this lawsuit desegregated them,” Pasqua said. “It’s because of what the nine students in Little Rock did to help everybody around the United States to make sure that students get a fair education.”
When Pasqua returns to Connecticut, he hopes his students will understand the sacrifice the Little Rock Nine went through so “we can have the education we have today and we can create a more perfect union.”
Organizers for the Central High 60th anniversary event have had heard anecdotally from other teachers from around the country who have called asking them questions.