• Front facade of Little Rock Central High School

    Little Rock Central High School

    National Historic Site Arkansas

History & Culture

In the fall of 1957 Little Rock became the symbol of state resistance to school desegregation. Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus directly questioned the sanctity of the federal court system and the authority of the United States Supreme Court's desegregation ruling while nine African-American high school students sought an education at the all-white Little Rock Central High School.

The controversy in Little Rock was the first fundamental test of the United States resolve to enforce African-American civil rights in the face of massive southern defiance during the period following the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decisions. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower was compelled by white mob violence to use federal troops to ensure the rights of African-American children to attend the previously all-white school, he became the first president since the post-Civil War Reconstruction period to use federal troops in support of African-American civil rights.

 
Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford is taunted by crowd after being turned away from Central High School.
Elizabeth Eckford is taunted by members of the crowd after being denied entry into Central High School, September 4, 1957.
Photo by Will Counts. Courtesy Arkansas History Commission.

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