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Little Rock’s Central High School come to Rutherford College

Firstly we heard from Professor Clarence Lusane, who managed to tie in history, media, pop culture, as well as the current international social and political climate into a talk which was  equally fascinating and important. As a student of media, as well as history, it was an extraordinary opportunity to hear about representation and reflections of history and philosophies in a real life context from those directly impacted.

After this we had the complete honour of hearing Minnijean share with us her experiences of being part of the Little Rock 9. It was so surreal to hear her talk in person about her hardships and perspectives on the issues surrounding segregation as well as current issues. To hear first-hand about the Black Civil Rights Movements and Central High which we studied years ago, in Year 11 History, but at a more personal level about how difficult it was for them to go to an all-white high school.

Having her sit onstage at Rutherford College and share about her experiences is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For us students it was beyond engaging to hear about the injustices she suffered and overcame, her emotion towards what she had to through and how significantly it impacted her life, but also her passion towards what we can do now; it was about the past but also our futures. We heard about how she felt like she couldn’t talk about her struggles at school with her family and friends, while also having to bear the everyday struggle of having near 200 children bullying her each day and not being accepted for the strong and brilliant person she is.

A highlight was seeing the person she was, through all she has been through she is still so kind and loving towards everyone. From smiling when there were so many photos getting taken, giving people hugs and being so appreciative of the school Haka the prefects and the Kapa Haka performed.

This has been one of the most moving, inspirational and educational experiences we have ever had the honour of experiencing during our time as students that we will continue to remember and reflect upon years after we leave Rutherford.

Footage was aired on Te Karere News

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