- MSW / 94
In September 1957, 16-year-old Minnijean Brown Trickey and eight other teenagers made history by walking into a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. The students, who came to be known as the Little Rock Nine, were all black, and were the first group to test the 1954 ban on school segregation in the United States.
Trickey and her fellow students made it into the classroom, but by noon they were forced out, frightened away by threats of lynching. A few weeks later they returned to school, this time guarded by 1,000 United States Army troops ordered to Little Rock by President Dwight Eisenhower.
This seminal event in American history was just the beginning of Trickey’s career as a crusader for civil rights. She has spent her life fighting for the rights of minority groups and the dispossessed.
For her work, she has received the U.S. Congressional Medal, the Wolf Award and the Spingarn Medal, among other citations and awards. Under the Clinton administration, she served for a time as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior responsible for diversity.
After moving to New York City to finish high school, Trickey attended the University of Southern Illinois. She lived in Toronto, New Liskeard and Ottawa, Ontario before returning to the U.S. in 1999.
In honour of the activist, Ottawa declared November 5, 2007 to be Minnijean Brown Trickey Day. She was awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by Carleton in June 2008.
On February 28, 2008, Minnijean launched the Alumni Association’s Social Work Chapter Great Grads Speaker Series. Click here to watch a brief video clip of the event.