DAVIS COUNTY, Utah -- Utah high school students listened Thursday to a man who made American history.
Ernest Green, a member of the “Little Rock Nine”, visited Davis High School on Thursday and talked with students from both Two Rivers High School and Davis High.
The Hill Air Force Base Gospel Choir also sang for him before he walked onto the auditorium stage.
TJ Bettolo is a senior at Davis High. He has been learning about Green’s fearless history in school.
“It’s unreal he did those things,” Bettolo said. “It gives me motivation to beat my hardships.”
Green re-lived his first day going to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957—just three years after the Supreme Court of the United States declared segregation unconstitutional.
“September 5th, the first day we went to school, I and my eight classmates, rather than being greeted by friendly faces—classmates, teachers, and administrators—we were met instead by the angry mob of more than 1,000 of the Arkansas National Guard.”
Green was the oldest of those “Little Rock Nine.”
“The mob wanted blood, they wanted a sacrifice… They started calling out, they were going to break into the building, drag one of us out, hang us, to teach us a lesson," Green recalled.
Green asked the students not to fear change.
“Change is possible," he said. "They should be fearless about the way they approach things, and we have been involved in youth movements for a long time, whether it’s Civil Rights Movement, anti-war movements, and now this issue with the balance in schools with guns and all; I think that young people have an ability to make change.”
TJ found his inspiration in Green’s message.
“It really comes down to change because you should embrace change not fear it,” Bettolo said. “I think that just means a lot, because with recent issues now, we should embrace the change and not be stuck in our ways and that’s what stuck with me.”
Several students lined up to take advantage of the opportunity to ask Green questions. Green was prepared.
“I get a sense that they are thinking about bigger issues than people give them credit for sometimes,” said Green after he listened to the students’ questions.
“Do you ever believe we will reach full racial and social equality in the United States? And what can I do to make a difference in my majority white community?” asked one young male student.
“I’m convinced that coming to a school like yours, I have a chance to talk to some future leaders that can make a difference," Green said. "I’m an optimist. I wouldn’t have gone to Central if I didn’t think so, and I believe that the greater ideas are ahead of this country and you’re going to be part of the solution that fuels that.”
To learn more about Green’s influence and history, click here.