Minnijean Brown-Trickey

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Minnijean Brown-Trickey
Minnijean Brown-Trickey in 2018.png
Minnijean Brown-Trickey speaking at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, February 9, 2018.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior
For Workforce Diversity
In office
PresidentBill Clinton
Personal details
Born (1941-09-11) September 11, 1941 (age 77)
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
Alma materLaurentian University
OccupationCivil Rights Activist
Awards include the Congressional Gold Medal and Spingarn Medal

Minnijean Brown-Trickey (born September 11, 1941)[1] was one of a group of African American teenagers known as the "Little Rock Nine."[2] On September 25, 1957, under the gaze of 1,200 armed soldiers and a worldwide audience, Minnijean Brown-Trickey faced down an angry mob and helped to desegregate Central High.

She was suspended for six days in December 1957 for dropping her tray, on which she had a bowl of chili, on the floor and splashing two white boys, after several chairs had been pushed in her way, withdrawn, and then pushed in her way again, in the cafeteria.[3] Later, in February, a group of girls threw a purse filled with combination locks at Minnijean. She responded by calling the girls "white trash" and she was immediately expelled.[4]

Brown-Trickey with Congressman Vic Snyder.
Brown-Trickey with Congressman Vic Snyder.

In her adult life, Brown-Trickey continues to be an activist for minority rights. She lived in Canada for a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s, getting involved in First Nations activism and studying social work at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, and later completing a Master of Social Work degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She has received the Congressional Gold Medal, the Wolf Award, the Spingarn Medal, and many other citations and awards.[1] Under the Clinton administration, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior responsible for diversity.[1][5]

A documentary film about Brown-Trickey entitled Journey to Little Rock: The Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey (2002) was produced by North-East Pictures in Ottawa, where Brown-Trickey lived during the 1990s. In 2007, Laurentian also honored Trickey with an honorary doctorate of laws.[6]

Brown-Trickey moved back to Little Rock for several years, and resided there with her mother and sister. Her daughter Spirit Trickey also resides in Little Rock, and is employed at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, where she interprets her mother's, and the other eight students' struggle to enter Central. Brown-Trickey now resides in Burnaby, Canada.[7]

Media portrayals[edit]

Brown-Trickey has been depicted in two made-for-television movies about the Little Rock Nine. She was portrayed by Regina Taylor in the 1981 CBS movie Crisis at Central High,[8] and by Monica Calhoun in the 1993 Disney Channel movie The Ernest Green Story.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Minnijean Brown Trickey". Honorees. National Women's History Project. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
  2. ^ "'They were hanging effigies': Little Rock 9 activist recalls hate campaign to block desegregation". Staff. "TV- Novosti". RT International. 23 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  3. ^ Huckaby, Elizabeth. Crisis at Central High: Little Rock 1957-58: Louisiana State University Press, 1980, p. 103.
  4. ^ http://www.thirteen.org/unsungheroines/women-cat/minnijean-brown-trickey-environmental-and-civil-rights-activist/
  5. ^ "Access Today", Department of the Interior to Convene: Disability Rights Summit Meeting, Spring 2000.
  6. ^ The Sudbury Star, Ontario, CA http://www.thesudburystar.com/webapp/sitepages/content.asp?contentid=552088&catname=Local+News&classif= Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link].
  7. ^ "History Lessons", Arkansas Times, archived from the original on 2015-12-26.
  8. ^ Crisis at Central High at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ The Ernest Green Story at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]