What Really Happened When the Little Rock Nine Tried to Go to School

empty hallway in a school with yellow lockers
Alyssa Guzik
April 17, 2024

Three years, three months, and 18 days after Brown v. Board of Education declared segregation in education illegal, nine Black kids were ready to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Until the state got involved.

Schools across the South continued to resist desegregation, with encouragement from angry white mobs and local government officials. In the case of the “Little Rock Nine,” this opposition wasn’t just local.

Governor Orval Faubus called the Arkansas National Guard to block the students from entering the school. US District Judge Ronald Davies then ordered the high school desegregation to proceed. The students were still blocked from entering the school.

Little Rock’s Mayor, desperate to end the confrontation, called the White House. Twenty-five days later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed the 101st Airborne Division. Only then, on September 29, 1957, were the Little Rock Nine allowed to attend school.

Racism was so deeply embedded in the nation that local, state, and federal authorities had to go to battle to give nine Black students access to equal education. What does this teach us about our fight for liberation?

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