1957 September 25

President Eisenhower Sends Troops to Little Rock to Enforce Integration


In a dramatic and unprecedented move, President Dwight Eisenhower on this day sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to ensure the racial integration of Central High School. The Little Rock crisis was one of the most dramatic events in the history of the civil rights movement.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus and local authorities had resisted integration in the face of a court order to implement the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision on May 17, 1954. Mobs had prevented the enrollment of nine African-American students (the “Little Rock Nine”) on September 23, 1957, as local authorities failed to maintain public order. Central High School was successfully integrated on this day because of the federal troops. In 1958, however, local officials resisted another court order, and that issue resulted in a landmark Supreme Court decision asserting the authority of the federal courts to enforce lawful court orders, Cooper v. Aaron, on September 12, 1958. Nonetheless, the Little Rock school board (which was not directly affected by the court decision) voted to close the schools rather than integrate, and the 1958–1959 academic year is known as the “lost year.” The schools opened the following year.

On September 27, 1997, President Bill Clinton, who was a young boy in Arkansas at the time of the integration crisis, held a ceremony in Little Rock marking the 40th anniversary of the crisis and honoring the Little Rock Nine.

Hear Ernest Green, One of Little Rock Nine, Recall the Dramatic Events:

Learn more: Karen Anderson, Race and Resistance at Central High School (2010)

Read the book by Daisy Bates, Little Rock’s integration leader: Daisy Bates, The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir (1962)

Visit the Little Rock Nine Memorial Statue:

Learn more at a timeline of events for the Little Rock Crisis: http://www.nps.gov/chsc/historyculture/timeline.htm

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