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The Remarkable Story of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High School (1994)

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Published on Dec 18, 2014

LRCHS was the focal point of the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957. Nine African-American students, known as the Little Rock Nine, were denied entrance to the school in defiance of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering integration of public schools. This provoked a showdown between the Governor Orval Faubus and President Dwight D. Eisenhower that gained international attention.

On the morning of September 23, 1957, the nine African-American high school students faced an angry mob of over 1,000 White Americans protesting integration in front of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.[7] As the students were escorted inside by the Little Rock police, violence escalated and they were removed from the school.[7] The next day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the 1,200-man 327th Airborne Battle Group of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to escort the nine students into the school.[7] By the same order, the entire 10,000 man Arkansas National Guard was federalized, to remove them from the control of Governor Faubus.[7] At nearby Camp Robinson, a hastily organized Task Force 153rd Infantry drew guardsmen from units all over the state.[7] Most of the Arkansas Guard was quickly demobilized, but the ad hoc TF153Inf assumed control at Thanksgiving when the 327th withdrew, and patrolled inside and outside the school for the remainder of the school year. As Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the nine students, remembered, and quoted in her book, "After three full days inside Central [High School], I know that integration is a much bigger word than I thought."

This event, watched by the nation and world, was the site of the first important test for the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.[7] Arkansas became the epitome of state resistance when the governor, Orval Faubus, directly questioned the authority of the federal court system and the validity of desegregation. The crisis at Little Rock's Central High School was the first fundamental test of the national resolve to enforce black civil rights in the face of massive resistance during the years following the Brown decision. As to whether Eisenhower's specific actions to enforce integration violated the Posse Comitatus Act, the Supreme Court, in Cooper v. Aaron (1958), indirectly affirmed the legality of his conduct, which was never, though, expressly reviewed.[11]

In 1958, federal Judge Jesse Smith Henley of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, stating that integration had "broken down under the pressure of public opinion," suspended operation of the federal integration order until the 1960-61 school term. The school board said that it had faced large fees and could not afford to hire security guards to keep the peace in school.[12]

LRCHS was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 19, 1977, and was designated a National Historic Landmark on May 20, 1982.[6] The school itself continues to be used as an educational facility.

In 2007, Central High School held an event for the 50th Anniversary of the Little Rock Nine entering Central. On September 24, 2007, a new museum was opened honoring the Little Rock Nine. That same year, HBO produced a documentary film directed by the Renaud Brothers, "Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later", which explored the significant changes and similarities within the school since its desegregation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_R...

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