The oldest of three daughters, Carlotta Walls LaNier was born on December 18, 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Juanita and Cartelyou Walls. Carlotta made history as the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, those nine courageous African American students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as these children and their families braved constant intimidation and threats in order to de-segregate the all-white school following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education.

White students called her names and spat on her and armed guards escorted her to classes, but Carlotta concentrated on her studies. Governor Orval Faubus stopped the public schools from opening in September of 1958, and after a year of closure and controversy, the schools re-opened in 1959. Carlotta returned to school, and became the first African American female to graduate from Central High in 1960.

Carlotta attended Michigan State University for two years before moving with her family to Denver, Colorado after her family was ostracized in Arkansas. In 1968, she earned a B.S. from Colorado State College (now the University of Northern Colorado) and began working at the YWCA as a program administrator for teens. In 1977, she founded LaNier and Company, a real estate brokerage company. Her experience in real estate covers project management from construction, remodeling, marketing and sales. Carlotta’s has been a team member of Cherry Creek Realtors since 1987.

Carlotta was awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal by the NAACP in 1958. She has been a member of the Colorado Aids Project, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated,The Links Incorporated, Denver (CO) Chapter, National Urban League, and the NAACP. She is the current President of the Little Rock Nine Foundation, a scholarship organization dedicated to ensuring equal access to education for African Americans and has also served as a trustee for the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Northern Colorado. In 1999, President Clinton bestowed the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the Little Rock Nine. Carlotta was named a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts in 2000, and was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2004. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015. She received the National Shining Star Award from NOBEL/Women (National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women).

In 2009, Carlotta completed her book, A Mighty Long Way, a biography with forward by Bill Clinton. Carlotta and her husband, Ira (Ike) LaNier, have two children, Whitney and Brooke, and two grandchildren.

Carlotta Walls LaNier