Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pro-Segregation Riots Draw Federal Troops: Fifty Years Ago Today in Little Rock

Fifty years ago today in Little Rock, Arkansas, nine African-American teenagers desegregated Central High School. Like many young black people in the former Confederate states, their civil disobedience was met by police, soldiers, and crowds of angry white people who spit at them, called them names and threw garbage on their clothes. You can read the story of today's commemoration in Little Rock here, and watch documentary footage of the original event above.

I know you are busy writing a paper but: what do you think it is like to choose to be part of a critical historic event? How would you find the courage to fight for something you believed in as an American citizen, even though you might be harmed? What matters that much? What stops people from demanding their rights?

Curiously, on this anniversary of a moment where young citizens fought for democracy in the United States, Burmese people are marching in the streets, demonstrating for a democratic society, and led by Burmese monks. The last time protests happened on this in Myanmar (Burma), it is estimated that thousands were imprisoned and killed by the government. What do you think of that?

1 comment:

Jules said...

I think one of the biggest differences between the Little Rock situation in 1957 and the one in Myanmar today is the lack of central power in Myanmar to protect universal standards or even basic rights (i.e. civil disobedience). Though some countries are "condemning" the actions of the military junta, many seem apathetic- or in the case of China, driven most by, what else, economics. China is Myanmar's largest trade partner, and seems to be gaining much more from the latter's extremely rich natural resources than Myanmar is procuring for its own people. But even China, who has repeatedly in the past blocked measures to "condemn" the junta's violence against civilians for the reasons above, has recently called for Myanmar to "exercise restraint" (NYT, 9/28). As monks are being raided and civilians attached with automatics, what's next? Who will step up and be the Eisenhower of today?

-Julie Zhao