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Contact(s):Ronald E. Childs, 312/986-1260 OR

Thelma A. Walker, 312/986-1265

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Little Rock Nine® Foundation Honors 2007 Scholarship and Mentorship Award Recipients

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., (August 21, 2007) – The desegregation of American society has come a long way since 1957, when nine black students walked into Little Rock’s Central High School under armed guard in defiance of the tumultuous racial climate of that time. These courageous young people came to embody the African American struggle for equality, and 50 years later, they’re returning to Little Rock to honor education and perseverance at the Little Rock Nine® Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Scholarship Awards Gala.

The event takes place on Monday, September 24th at the Wally Allen Ballroom, Statehouse Convention Center, hosted by former President Bill Clinton and sponsored by Coca-Cola USA. Racial tension in the south has been on a steady decline since 1957, and the brave group of nine students who entered Central High that year, paving the way for that progress, became known as the “Little Rock Nine.” Their story and statement reached the Supreme Court, helping to establish the Brown vs. Board of Education case as one of the pillars of the historic Civil Rights Movement.

“Fifty years ago in Little Rock, nine of us agreed to the rules of what was known at the time as the Blossom Plan (named for then-Superintendent Virgil Blossom), so that we might continue our public high school education at Central,” said Carlotta Walls LaNier, president and spokesperson for the Little Rock Nine® Foundation. “For each of us, this decision meant leaving life-long friends and agreeing to forego all extra-curricular activities in order to obtain what we thought would be the best education Little Rock had to offer.

Our Scholarship and Mentorship program ties our young winners to their history, and empowers them with the knowledge and belief that they are in a position to make a difference in tomorrow’s world,” she added. “We took a stand to teach the next generation about the importance of education to success.”

To continue the legacy of “Little Rock Nine,” nine leaders of the future will receive scholarships at the September Awards ceremony. Listed as follows are the students who’ve been selected out of a pool of applicants, based upon their written essays, and attainment of a minimum 3.0 GPA:

• Curtis Flournoy, Wilbur D. Mills University Studies High School, Little Rock, AR
• José Holloway, Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock, AR
• Ruanda McFerren, Northside High School, Ft. Smith, AR
• Eivi Colmenero, North High School, Denver, CO
• Tiffany Romero, North High School, Denver, CO
• Lindsey Brown, Craigmont High School, Memphis, TN
• Veronica Billingsley, Booker T. Washington High School, Memphis, TN
• John Williams, Moises E. Molina High School, Dallas, TX
• Daisha Henry, Franklin D. Roosevelt High School, Dallas, TX

Proceeds from the anniversary celebration will benefit students from underperforming schools nationwide. The winning essayists will be officially introduced at the Gala, where they will receive their scholarships and, in addition, meet their assigned mentor.

Due to the overwhelming response for tickets, the Gala was relocated from the Peabody Hotel to the Wally Allen Ballroom, Statehouse Convention Center, located at 1 Statehouse Plaza (West Markham & Main St.) in Little Rock. Delta Air Lines, Inc. is the official carrier for the Little Rock Nine 50th Anniversary Celebration & Scholarship Awards Gala.

The Little Rock Nine® Foundation is comprised of the original nine students who together braved a storm of controversy in that Arkansas city, seeking an equal opportunity for a quality education. Fifty years later, the nine are still together today, actively committed to the mission of helping future generations realize, as they did, that education matters and is vital for success in life.

Incorporated in February 1999, the Little Rock Nine® Foundation has worked to advance the principles of excellence in education for young people from under performing schools. The mission of the Foundation is to provide direct financial support for students to help them reach their educational goals. The Little Rock Nine® Foundation recognizes the importance of a good education and the continuous life-long process of learning.

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