1959 May 25

Three Segregationists Voted Off Little Rock, Arkansas, School Board; Integration Struggle Continues

 

The struggle over the desegregation of the Little Rock public schools continued, and on this day the voters recalled three pro-segregation members of the school board. The new board then voted to reopen the schools that the old board had closed for the 1958–1959 school year rather than integrate them.

The Little Rock school integration crisis was one of the most famous civil rights controversies of the 1950s. On September 23, 1957, a mob had blocked the entry of nine African-American students (the “Little Rock Nine”), who had been admitted under a federal court-ordered desegregation plan. President Dwight Eisenhower called out federal troops to ensure their admission to the school on September 25, 1957. A year later, on September 12, 1958, in Cooper v. Aaron, the Supreme Court overruled another attempt by local officials to block school integration in a decision that asserted the supremacy of the authority of the federal courts. The Court’s decision, however, did not cover the school board, which voted to close the schools. The victory of pro-integration forces on this day was a result of the leadership of an organized group of mothers and the business community, both of whom were concerned about the impact of closed public schools on the community. The Little Rock public schools reopened in the fall of 1959.

On the fortieth anniversary of the Little Rock crisis, President Bill Clinton honored the Little Rock Nine in a ceremony on September 27, 1997.

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

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

Watch a documentary on the Little Rock crisis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xERXusiEszs

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

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