1957 September 23

Segregationist Mob Blocks School Integration in Little Rock

 

A violent mob of segregationists on this day prevented nine African-American students (“The Little Rock Nine”) from entering Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Dwight Eisenhower finally sent federal troops to protect the students and successfully integrate the school two days later, on September 25, 1957. The crisis in Little Rock was one of the most famous events of the civil rights movement, and it caused enormous embarrassment to the U.S. from around the world — especially the widely circulated photographs of U.S. troops with bayonets outside of Central High School.

One consequence of the case involved a further attempt by local officials to block a court-ordered school integration plan. This led to the historic Supreme Court decision Cooper v. Aaron, decided on September 12, 1958, declaring that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and that no official may block a lawful federal court order.

On September 27, 1997, President Bill Clinton held a ceremony at the White House honoring the Little Rock Nine, the students who integrated Central High School forty years earlier.

Watch 1957 coverage of the event on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH-eC4LgZT4

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)

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

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