Letter to the editor: Little Rock Nine

Referencing Michael Rauser’s recent article (on the showing of “The Road to Little Rock,” a film about The Little Rock Nine), some of my students and I also enjoyed listening to Dr. Terence Roberts’ talk about his experiences as one of The Little Rock Nine. We noted his courage when he was asked if he was afraid and said, “I wanted to run out of there every day and never come back.” We also thought it significant that it wasn’t just the white parents and students who were taunting the nine black students; with only a couple of exceptions, the teachers were also against them. Roberts described the teachers as “steeped in the ideology of racism.”

First, there is a danger in taking this sort of program and then saying the problem is “out there” or “down south” without looking at the meaning to each of us. We can benefit by looking inside and seeing if we hold prejudicial thoughts or behaviors. It is too easy to just call out the behavior and not look at ourselves.

We can also look at our communities, such as our State of North Dakota for example, where, if we are aware, we realize that we have never deeply faced the genocide and degradation perpetrated on the Native Americans. How would we go about healing those wounds, which are still being perpetrated to this day? Perhaps, a “truth and reconciliation” commission similar to that organized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela in South Africa might be an important step to healing – for all of us.

Also, as we look at injustices in the world, we need to remember that we can make a difference. As Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small, thoughtful, committed group of citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Michael Hendrickson

adjunct professor of ethics and professional conduct for accountants