• Jackie Riddling

James issues statement on 65th anniversary of Elizabeth Eckford attempting to enter Central High

Updated: Sep 15

*** Press Release ***

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – Natalie James, Democratic nominee for United States Senate, issues statement on 65 year anniversary of Elizabeth Eckford attempting to enter Central High School following Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring segregation unconstitutional

Contact: Jackie Riddling FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Communications Director September 4, 2022

Natalie James for Arkansas


LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSASNatalie James, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, released the following statement on the 65 year anniversary of Elizabeth Eckford attempting to enter Central High School following Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring segregation unconstitutional:

Photo Source: Encyclopedia of Arkansas

“It's been 65 years since Elizabeth Eckford attempted to integrate into Central High School as one of the "Little Rock 9" following the Supreme Court's decision to outlaw segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. Each year I try to reflect on this moment: where we were, where we are, and the work ahead. This year I'm on the ballot as the first Black woman nominee for US Senate in Arkansas, living in the same city where Elizabeth Eckford bravely walked toward Central High School & I can't help but think about the role our government played in allowing segregation and dismantling it.

In 1896, SCOTUS ruled that "separate but equal" laws were constitutional, relegating Black Americans as second-class citizens. More than a half century would pass before the Court finally declared that "separate but equal" as the fallacy we all know it to be today. In 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education, SCOTUS declared that separate schools are inherently unequal and recognized the Constitutional right of Black students to attend schools with their white peers. It then took years for Arkansas to fully integrate.

To see photos of Elizabeth Eckford, a child, ridiculed and mocked, screamed at and tormented, simply because she wanted the same education as her white peers is devastating. But perhaps, the only thing more devastating to imagine, would be if SCOTUS had gotten it wrong in Brown. Imagine if SCOTUS had held that each state had the right to allow "separate but equal" laws. How much longer would it have taken for integration to occur? (How long will it take for us to regain our reproductive freedoms after SCOTUS's recent abortion decision?)

In Arkansas, the governor called in the National Guard to stop students from legally integrating, so we know Arkansas would not have integrated in the 1950s if given the choice. Would it have taken 5 more years? 20? Would I be here today as the first Black nominee for US Senate in Arkansas?

When the Supreme Court upholds the freedoms our great country depends upon, we are all provided with a better future. When it doesn't, it can take decades for that wrong to be corrected, leaving a lasting impact for generations.

We are at a pivotal time in history. SCOTUS just overturned constitutionally protected abortion using dangerous language that threatens to take our country even further backward. We now must wait to see what rights we will lose next. Contraceptives, same-sex marriage?

History will repeat itself if we let it. We need US Senators who are committed to defending our Constitutional freedoms when SCOTUS will not and who will only confirm Supreme Court Justices rooted in the idea that politics have no place on the bench.

I'm running to be your next US Senator. The stakes are high, but if history has taught us anything it's that we can rise to the occasion & meet challenges that seem insurmountable. This November we will succeed in securing a better future for generations to come."

- Natalie James

Natalie James is a lifelong Arkansan and single working mother of two. As Arkansas’s next US Senator, James will fight to pass legislation that protects and improves the lives of working-class Americans.

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