BBVA Compass and the Houston Rockets celebrated Black History Month today at Texas Southern University, hosting a Fireside Chat with civil rights leaders Carlotta Walls LaNier and Lucille Bridges.
The chat included 150 attendees, including city and community leaders such as Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, TSU students, and bank and team representatives. The conversation covered multiple topics, including LaNier’s and Bridges’ integral roles in helping integrate schools in the South.
This has been a particularly special initiative.
“Our collaboration with the Houston Rockets consistently focuses on giving back to Houston and its communities,” said BBVA Compass Houston CEO Mark Montgomery. “This has been a particularly special initiative. These two women were pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement, and have lived by the ‘creating opportunities’ mantra their entire lives. Black History Month celebrates the undying courage of civil rights leaders whose accomplishments have echoed through the decades, cultivating social progress. We wanted to leverage our long-standing friendship with the Houston Rockets to proudly present this event and inspire those in attendance.”
Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students, who in 1957, became the first to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army to ensure that LaNier and her classmates could safely enter the school. LaNier and the rest of the Little Rock Nine, were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Lucille Bridges’ oldest daughter, Ruby, was six years old when she became the first African-American child to integrate a white Southern elementary school on Nov. 14, 1960. They were accompanied by U.S. Marshals to protect them from protesters. Ruby’s first day entering school is the is the subject of a 1964 painting, The Problem We All Live With, by Norman Rockwell.
In addition, during the Rockets’ game vs. the Miami Heat at 7 p.m. tonight, as part of the Rockets Black History Night celebration, the team will honor LaNier and Bridges on the court during game breaks.