2018 Feature, Small Newsroom finalist


Making civil rights history come alive


About the Project

In 1957, nine brave black teenagers took on the segregated American educational system, enrolling in Little Rock’s all-white Central High School. The Little Rock Nine, as they became known, faced death threats in their attempt to enforce the newly-passed Brown vs. Board of Education. Today, Sixty years later, racial equity struggles echo their story.

Youth Radio partnered with Central High School students in Little Rock, Arkansas, using modern storytelling technology to make history come alive on the anniversary of the Little Rock Nine’s fight.

Using #LR9Live, Youth Radio’s Twitter feed took us back in time with a reenactment of the Nine’s return to Central High, ultimately breaking down the walls of segregation.

Central High students conducted oral history interviews with members of the community, and pulled from primary documents to reconstruct the day the Little Rock Nine successfully desegregated the school. Youth Radio’s team of young illustrators and coders helped transform this information into a historically accurate live tweet simulation of the event. The social media content was archived on a website built by a young coder at Youth Radio’s headquarters in Oakland.

The social feed included a rich trove of primary-sourced photos, quotes, videos and illustrations to remind us of how much — and how little — has changed. Youth Radio and the Little Rock Central High Memory Project also worked together to produce an NPR commentary that aired on the same day of the main live tweet.

The Twitter moment of Youth Radio’s #LR9LIVE feed was featured by Twitter curators as an outstanding part of the day’s coverage of the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine.