On September 25, 1957, nine brave African American teenagers walked into Little Rock Central High School. An angry mob made their going to school so dangerous that an Army vehicle had to drive them to school.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army 101st Airborne from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, had to escort the students inside and escort them to their classes all day long for several weeks.
The mob mentality that fueled that angry mob is a frightening thing even to read about over six decades later. I wonder. Did no one in the mob remember God’s teaching in Romans 12?
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual service of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Or in Exodus 23:2?
You shall not follow the crowd in doing evil . . .
The youngest of those nine students was Carlotta Walls, now Carlotta Walls LaNier. This was the pretty skirt and blouse she had worn on the first day of school three weeks earlier. However, the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne weren’t there to protect her on that first day, so she didn’t get to go in.
It was President Eisenhower who sent Fort Campbell’s “Screaming Eagles” to Little Rock. He sent them on September 24, 1957. That night he spoke to the American people on television to explain what he was doing and why.
By this time in his life, President Eisenhower had developed a relationship with evangelist Billy Graham. He sought Graham’s advice before making his final decision to send the 101st Airborne. Eisenhower knew the value of seeking counsel. Later, when President Kennedy had made an unwise decision as president, he talked with Eisenhower about what had happened. Eisenhower was gentle as he helped Kennedy to see the value of seeking counsel.
I quoted Carlotta Walls LaNier recently. Looking back on her experiences as one of the Little Rock Nine, she said:
Hard work, determination, persistence, and faith in God were lessons learned from my parents, Cartelyou and Juanita Walls. I was only doing what was right.
Eisenhower listened to Graham. Carlotta Walls LaNier listened to her parents. One of the important lessons we can teach our children is to listen. Another important lesson to teach them is to know that they need to listen.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a person who listens to advice is wise.