Last Words

The Last Words of Leviathan Hobbs
Little Rock, Arkansas
September 20th, 2012

My name is Laviathan Hobbs. I am 71 years of age, born on June 20th, 1941. I'm aware that I have few days left within my long life, little time to truly explain its significant, but I am determined to let my life be spilled upon these pages, though I'm well aware that no one may set there eyes beforee it. You may question the words that you read for you may think my old age may bring fuzzy thoughts and an un-straight memory, I may be old and withered but I assure you my mind is sharp and fresh. I haven't spoke of what you are about to read with anyone but my loving husband Richard, may he rest in peace, and it has been sometime sense I've seen his loving face. These words that fallow are not secret or a hidden mystery they are just reasons and explanations for the way I have lived my life. Of course my children and grand-babies know nothing of this, their lives have made them unaware of my youth, but hopefully once I am long gone they will find this among my many things and learn of what they are unaware of. I pray that they will understand my ways as well as Richard's by the time I am finished with my tale, hopefully all who read this will understand.

September 1957, were I had just turned 16 three months beforee, was when it begin. In that month is when I met nine negros who changed my life. Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray, Thelma Mothershed, and Melba Pattillo nine brave negros who held a future that no one would have believed. They faced mobs of whites, my neighbours, friends, people who at the time I looked up to, each day. They were turned away by our National Guard, by our governor Orval Faubus, yet it did not stop them. They faced chants of no integration, signs of hate, fear for the lives of not only them but all of their loved ones as well, and the protest of their presence. The nine were hated, despised thought of as a horrible disease. Parents acted as if their child was in some kind of horrible danger by being with in breathing distense, as if their "color" would whip off on their child's pearly skin. Fools each and everyone of them, fools who couldn't look past the top layer of skin to see the person that lay beneath. No, they weren't some beast, a creature set out to corrupt the school, they were humans, negro people. People with hopes, dreams, goals, for their lives. People who were determined to attend Little Rock Central high School and with President Eisenhower's help as well as the U.S. Army's they did.

Now as a white student it was expected that I would want nothing to do with the nine, but that wasn't the case. I was drawn to them for one reason or another, and they became my friends. I was ridiculed with them, kicked, spit on, beaten up just like the negro news reporters and teased as well, but it did not bother me. I didn't care that I was hated amongst my peers, all that mattered was that I did was rights, and what was right was to stand by the nine negros. It is expected that my ma and pa would have felt disgraced tourds me if they would have known, but they knew nothing of my family transgression. I was a white teenage girl, among people who were disgraceful in my book, who hated me because I preferred the company of "negro devils" instead of their snotty, stuck up aura. I walked with them to class, sat with them at assemblies, eat at their tables, they were my friends and I theirs.That year with the Blossom Plan in place with in the school, I learned just how wrong all of my elders truly were.

They were nothing to fear, nothing to hate. They were diamonds that shine, the Little Rock Nine. They were sweet, kind, strong individuals who faced discrimination every day and I as a white girl faced none of that. I learned just how hard a negros life was. They taught me to hold my head high, even when I cam home with a black eye and had to lie to my ma on how on earth I got the ugly beast. They taught me how to stick up for my self, to be confident, to respect not just Mr. and Mrs. Wilson from next door, but Mr. and Mrs. John from a few blocks away, who owned the 50cent store and hardly ever had a white costumer. They made me a better person and to that I will always be grateful for.

On September 3, 1957 the first day of school is when I first saw them. I stood amongst the crowd, my ma's nails dug into my shoulder as she held on to me as if gravity would stop and I'd float away. They walked through the crowd, black and white. White shying away in disgusted, black pushing forward to the line of Arkansas National Guard men. The crowd chanted "2, 4, 6, 8, We ain't gunna integrate." and spitting at their shoes, yet the negros held their heads high. Women held their children, as they screamed their disgust, men hollered about the shame the congress was for enforcing the fowl law. My pa shook his head, something that, I had learned from childhood, meant he was ashamed, dug his large hands deeper into his knickers in a way to cool his temper, and allowed his fedora to slip lower on his head. My ma fixed her dress, red nails still gripping my shoulder, muttering about how awful the school boards was for letting negros in, eyes locked on the nine negros as if they would leap over the crowd at us, causing her to flip her lid. I eyed them with curiosity not of hatred as the rest of the crowd did. I knew my parents felt as if they were bad news, a ping of annoyance and hate mixed in somewhere into the melting pot, yet my feelings weren't mutual.

They marched closer to the National Guard, and as they passed me my blue eyes met with their brown for the first time, and I smiled. My slime hand rising in a wave hidden from the tunnel visioned crowd. Each of the nine returned my smile but kept their hands to their sides out of fear from the group. They continued pushing through, elbows jabbing them, feet held in their path. After what felt like hours they appeared before the National Guard. One member stept delicately in front of the negros, "Under the orders of Governor Faubus, we have been instructed to not allow the likes of you to enter the premises." A cheer rang through the group of whites, while the nine negros stood as if a heavy load lay upon their backs. Slowly they turned away from the soldier and retreated to face the crowd again. A single tear slipped down my cream colored cheek in disapointmeant and sorrow as they were ushered away. The crowd was even more violent with their words as the nine took their tracks back to the bus stop. Their steps did not falter, heads held high, steady hands. They rang confident, yet their eyes showed hurt, disapointmeant, and sadness.

Once out of the crowd, the group dispersed slipping away to their neighborhoods. Reluctantly my ma slid her hand from my shoulder so that she could wrap it around my fathers slim frame. "Now Laviathan arn't ya just ecstatic hun?", my ma's honey voice pooled. "Yeah, I'm just goin ape, ya know?" my words held no meaning, it was what they wanted to hear, not what I felt. "That's a good doll, see you after school Lavy. You ain't gunna get no education standing out here", my pa said this as he led my ma to out small car. "Nether are those negros", was all I muttered before stalking off the that retched school.

I walked through that same crowd every day after that, waiting for the day that Congress forced the governor to remove the Guards. I walked through that crowd, and watched as they beat black reporters for coming to cover the story, watched as the nine failed to enter the school on multiple accounts. My days were filled with distast for my own race, sorrow for the negros, and hope that they would soon attend Little Rock Central School. I belive I was the only white that stood amongst the crowd who felt joy when the U.S. Army's 101st Airborn Division appeared to escort the nine into the school. It was as if the cloudy haze that held over me since the first day of school was removed on September 25 when they were excorted into the building starting my friendship with them.

L.H.





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