Crisis Timeline

August 29, 1853
Little Rock's first public school opens - for white students only.

January 1, 1863
President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Emancipation Proclamation which announces "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." The Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways: only states that had seceded from the US were held to this decree while slavery was left unaffected in the loyal border states.

September 1927
Little Rock Senior (renamed Central in 1953) High School opens its doors for the first time. The school costs more than $1.5 million to construct.

September 1929
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, the high school for African American students, opens. The school costs $400,000 - the Rosenwald Foundation donates $67,500 and $30,000 comes from the Rockefeller General Education Fund.

May 17, 1954

The United States Supreme Court rules racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Five days later, the Little Rock School Board issues a policy statement saying it will comply with the Supreme Court’s decision. In May 1955, The Supreme Court further defines the standard of implementation for integration as being “with all deliberate speed,” in Brown II and charges the federal courts with establishing guidelines for compliance.

May 22, 1954
Superintendent Virgil Blossom and the Little Rock School District (LRSD) board announce their intention to comply with the Brown decision, but only after the courts have outlined an implementation decree.

August 23, 1954
Under the direction of Pine Bluff attorney Wiley Branton, chairman of the state’s NAACP Legal Redress Committee, the NAACP petitions the Little Rock School Board for immediate integration.


May 24, 1955
The LRSD board adopts a phased plan of integration called the Blossom Plan. After several changes, the Blossom Plan would develop into a quite limited approach that would begin only at Central High in 1957 after the construction of two new high schools for the growing urban population of Little Rock. One of the new high schools, Hall High, would be for white-only in the well-to-do western edges of Little Rock. The other, Horace Mann High in eastern Little Rock, would become an African American-only high school. The plan would be “fully implemented” over six years.

May 31, 1955
The U.S. Supreme Court issues its Brown II implementation order which directs school districts across America to proceed with desegregation with "all deliberate speed." Chief Justice Earl Warren writes the Court’s unanimous decision which in reality sets no specific deadlines. Southern school boards interpret this decision as a chance for delay.


January 24, 1956

Twenty-seven African American students in Little Rock attempt to enroll for the second semester at Central High, Little Rock Technical High, Forest Heights Junior High, and Forest Park Elementary School. They are refused enrollment by the LRSD Board of Education.

February 8, 1956
Twelve African American parents, on behalf of thirty-three African American students, file a federal lawsuit (Aaron v. Cooper) asking for immediate desegregation of Little Rock schools. The case uses the names of William Cooper, president of the LRSD board, and John Aaron, the first listed student. The suit is sponsored by the NAACP; in its varied forms, this case would extend integration in Little Rock and across the South.

March 11, 1956
All eight of Arkansas's U.S. senators and congressmen demonstrate resistance by joining other southern legislators in signing the "Southern Manifesto” - a document that denounces the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on desegregation and encourages the southern states to resist it. They are joined by ninety-two other southern members of Congress.

April 6, 1956
Horace Mann High School for blacks opens on McAlmont, replacing overcrowded Dunbar High which becomes a junior high for blacks.

August 28, 1956
U.S. district court judge John E. Miller upholds the LRSD board's gradual desegregation plan in the case of Aaron v. Cooper, declaring that the Little Rock School Board has acted in “utmost good faith” in setting up its plan of gradual integration.

November 6, 1956
Orval Faubus wins reelection for a second term as governor after defeating the Democratic candidate Jim Johnson in the summer primary and the Republican Roy Mitchell in the November general election. Arkansas voters approve three anti -integration measures:

  • Constitutional Amendment 47, a act directing the legislature to create laws opposing the Supreme Court desegregation decision

  • a Resolution of Interposition establishing a state policy of segregation

  • Initiated Act 2, a pupil assignment law.


February 26, 1957
Faubus signs into law four bills previously approved by a majority vote of Arkansans in a General Election:

  • Act 83 – creates a State Sovereignty Commission
  • Act 84 – relieves school children of compulsory attendance in mixed public schools
  • Act 85 – requires persons involved in certain activities to register with and make periodic reports to SSC
  • Act 86 – authorizes school districts to employ legal counsel for certain purposes

March 27, 1957
Central High School hosts Ninth Grade Night as an orientation - Superintendent Virgil Blossom welcomes future sophomores and their parents to the school. He had agreed to discuss desegregation and the plans of the LRSD, but he speaks for five minutes and does not mention desegregation.

April 29, 1957
An appeal of Aaron v. Cooper to a federal appellate court results in the upholding of the LRSD board's gradual desegregation plan. Judge John Miller had approved this plan at a lower level in federal district court the previous August. The federal district court retained jurisdiction over the case, however, making the School Board’s implementation of the Blossom Plan a court mandate.

June 27, 1957
Members of the Capital Citizens' Council, Reverend Wesley Pruden, and the lawyer Amis Guthridge submit a set of public questions to the LRSD board regarding plans for the social interaction of black and white students. They also inquire about opportunities for white and black students to attend segregated schools should their schools be integrated. This follows letters from the same organization to Governor Faubus asking that white and black students attend segregated schools.

July 27, 1957
The LRSD board responds to the questions of the Capital Citizens' Council, saying that providing only separate schools for whites and blacks will violate the court order to proceed with integration. It assures the public, however, that social interaction of the races will not occur and uses this opportunity to explain that the only Little Rock high school to be integrated is Central.

August 1957
A variety of constituents file a series of suits in federal and chancery courts to either delay integration or declare some state segregation laws unconstitutional. Mary (Mrs. Clyde) Thomason, recording secretary of the newly formed Mothers' League of Little Rock Central High School, files one such suit. The Mother's League is a segregationist group supported by the Capital Citizens' Council. The League wishes to prevent integration at the high school, where some of the women have children. 10 African American ministers contest the validity of the February 1957 four acts in federal court.

August 22, 1957
Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin holds a meeting in Little Rock and attacks the 1954 Brown decision. He praises the courage of Arkansans who were fighting to preserve states' rights. While in Little Rock, he stays at the Governor's Mansion and dines with Governor Orval Faubus. Griffin says constitutional government would be dead "if the South surrenders her schools to the operation of the federal government."

August 23, 1957
Preregistration of students for all Little Rock schools begins. High school students pick up schedules, textbook lists, and an instruction sheet with first-day directions and school rules. Administrators at Central High expect as many as twenty African American students whom higher school authorities might assign to their building, but no African American students appear on this day.

August 26-27, 1957
Preregistration at Central High continues with sixty new students coming from Scott High School in Scott, Arkansas. The Pulaski County superintendent agrees to transport and pay tuition for these rural students so they might have more academic offerings than the small rural high school can provide. Some students are Japanese Americans who live and work on a produce farm near Scott.

August 27, 1957
The Mother’s League holds its first public meeting. The topic of their discussion: “inter-racial marriages and the diseases which might arise.” As a result of their conversations, the League draws up a petition against school integration behind which Governor Faubus throws his support. For the League, Mary Thomason files a motion seeking a temporary reprieve from school integration and clarification of the ‘segregation’ laws. Several African American students attempt to enroll at Central High, but are turned away by the registrar and told they must go to the superintendent's office to obtain transfers for registration. Neither of the vice principals - J.O. Powell and Elizabeth Huckaby - nor principal Jess Matthews sees the students.

August 29, 1957
Pulaski County Chancellor Murray Reed grants a reprieve from school integration that was requested two days prior by the Mother’s League on the grounds that school integration could lead to violence. In May 1955, the Little Rock school board had adopted the Phase Program Plan of gradual desegregation that became known as the Blossom Plan, after its author and superintendent of Little Rock public schools, Virgil T. Blossom. Only Little Rock Central High was to be integrated. Integration in Little Rock would be achieved in phases - high school students integrated first in 1957, followed by junior high school students, and finally elementary school students. No dates were specified for the latter two phases.

August 30, 1957
Federal District Judge Ronald Davies nullifies the reprieve to school integration that had previously been granted by the Pulaski County Chancellor; additionally, he orders the Little Rock School Board to proceed with its gradual integration plan.

September 2, 1957 – (Labor Day)
Labor Day is the final day of summer vacation for all Little Rock students. Governor Orval Faubus interrupts the “I Love Lucy Show” on local television to announce that he has received reports detailing “caravans” of white supremacists bound for Little Rock with the intention of preventing integration at Central High School. In order to prevent “blood in the streets,” he has called out the Arkansas National Guard (ANG) to preserve order at Central High. He says that the state militia will act not as segregationists or integrationists, but as "soldiers called to active duty to carry out their assigned tasks."

"Now that a federal court has ruled that no further litigation is possible before the forcible integration of Negroes and whites in Central High School tomorrow, the evidence of discord, anger, and resentment has come to me from so many sources as to become a deluge. There is evidence of disorder and threats of disorder which could have but one inevitable result— that is, violence which can lead to injury and the doing of harm to persons and property."

September 3, 1957
Hall High opens for white students in western Little Rock on a segregated basis. Teachers and white students attend Central High despite ANG soldiers around its perimeter. ANG lines prevent African American janitors, maids, and cafeteria cooks from entering. No African American students appear as Superintendent Blossom has requested that they stay away for their own safety.

The LRSD board petitions the federal district court asking for instructions. The board maintains that in light of the governor's actions in calling out the Arkansas National Guard, the board should be exempt from any charge of contempt. It asks that "no Negro students attempt to attend Central or any white high school until this dilemma is legally resolved."

The Mother’s League holds a “sunrise service” at Central High which is attended by members of the citizens’ council, disgruntled parents, students, and pastors. The crowd sings “Dixie” as the sun rises, illuminating Confederate Battle Flags flying over the scene. Despite this protest by the segregationists, Federal District Judge Ronald Davies orders that desegregation shall begin the next day. Meanwhile, Governor Orval Faubus orders the ANG to remain on guard at Central High.

September 4, 1957
10 African American students attempt to enter Central High for the first time. Late Tuesday evening, the principals of Dunbar and Horace Mann had informed the students that they would be going to Central the next day. Daisy Bates had then called the families of the students to inform them of the logistics for that Wednesday morning: do not come to Central High alone, but meet near the school around 8:30 a.m. where a group of local African American and white ministers would escort the students to the high school.

Elizabeth Eckford does not receive notice about this plan of action - the Eckfords do not have a telephone. Mrs. Bates intends to try to reach the Eckfords on Wednesday morning, but forgets in the hurried pace of the morning. Elizabeth rides a bus to Central, approaches the school just before 8:00 a.m. and sees the soldiers of the Arkansas National Guard surrounding the school. Barred by the soldiers in several failed attempts to be allowed past their ranks, Elizabeth finds herself in the throes of an angry mob of protesters numbering over 300+ on Park Street. Chants ["Two, four, six, eight! We don't want to integrate!"], racial epithets, terroristic threats and spit descend down on this fifteen-year old student as she attempts to make her way to the end of Park Street where perceived safety awaits her at another bus stop. After arriving at the bus stop, Elizabeth waits for 35 minutes; in the interim, she is denied entrance to Ponder's Drug and supported by Benjamin Fine and Grace Lorch.

"The mob of twisted whites, galvanized into vengeful action by the inaction of the heroic state militia, was not willing that the young school girl should get off so easily. Elizabeth Eckford had walked into the wolf's lair, and now that they felt she was fair game, the drooling wolves took off after their prey. The hate mongers, who look exactly like other, normal white men and women, took off down the street after the girl." - Buddy Lonesome, St. Louis Argus

"Here she is this little girl, this tender little thing, walking with this whole mob baying at her like a pack of wolves seeking to destroy a little lamb." - Benjamin Fine, New York Times

The remaining nine students arrive after 8:00 a.m. at the corner of Park and 13th Streets as originally planned by Daisy Bates (Terrence Roberts and Melba Pattillo walk separately to Central); joining them as scheduled are local African American and white ministers there to escort the students safely to the school.

As the group approaches Central High School, they hear the crowds that had previously accosted Elizabeth Eckford and witness the Arkansas National Guard (ANG) standing their ground surrounding the high school. When one of the ministers leading the students approaches the Guard, he is met by Lt. Colonel Marion Johnson, the commanding officer of the ANG. Johnson tells the group that on the orders of Governor Faubus, the students are not to be permitted to enter the school. 10 students have come for an education that day - 10 students have been denied entry in direct violation of federal law.

"The officer repeated his order for us to leave. His men stood resolutely in formation, still blocking us out, their rifles slung across their chest. Our group stood there for a moment, not quite sure what to do. And then the ministers turned and led us silently away. The mob continued yelling in the distance, but this time, I barely heard any of it. I was completely stunned. I'd never missed a day of school in my life. I still could not believe that I was standing just steps from the schoolhouse door, wanting desperately just to go to class, and the powers that be wouldn't let me in. The highest court in the land had said I had a right to be at that school, to learn, just like the white children. What would it take to open those closed ears and change their hardened hearts?" - Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the Little Rock Nine

Governor Orval Faubus reveals in an evening press conference that he had ordered the National Guardsmen surrounding Central High School to not permit the 10 students to enter. He tells newsmen that he does not consider this a violation of federal court orders to proceed with integration. Faubus also states that the command was issued from him to maintain peace and order, a responsibility of his as the chief executive of the state of Arkansas. Immediately after the press conference, Governor Faubus leaves his office - his aides will not tell the press where he has gone.

"The new order was based on the situation as it existed, the tension and unrest and in my judgment the real danger of disorder and violence and bodily harm to persons in the area." - Orval Faubus, Arkansas Democrat newspaper

September 6, 1957
Two major broadcasting networks, CBS and NBC offer to sit down with Governor Orval Faubus and give him a chance to tell his side of the Central High story thus far. Faubus has telegrammed President Dwight D Eisenhower with a willingness to provide evidence to the federal government justifying his use of the National Guard to “preserve the public peace." Eisenhower's response indicates, among other issues, that there is "no basis of fact" that federal authorities have considered taking Governor Faubus into custody.

September 7, 1957
Federal District Judge Ronald Davies denies a petition from the Little Rock School Board to delay integration at Central High School; his ruling orders that desegregation begin on Monday, September 9.

Davies: “The testimony and arguments this morning were, in my judgment, as anemic as the petition itself." "In an organized society, there can be nothing but ultimate confusion and chaos if court decrees are flaunted, whatever the pretext."

While Virgil Blossom testified on behalf of the petition, Pine Bluff attorney Wiley Branton argued against the delay. Less than a decade earlier, Wiley Branton had helped integrate the University of Arkansas School of Law, assisting Silas Hunt in becoming the first African-American student admitted to the university since Reconstruction. Admitted in 1950, Branton would be the third African-American student to graduate with a law degree. One year before the desegregation crisis at Central High, Branton had filed suit against the Little Rock School Board for failing to integrate after the Brown v. Board of Education decision; this lawsuit would ultimately be heard by the SCOTUS in 1958 as Cooper v. Aaron, a unanimous verdict that rejected the contention that the Arkansas legislature and Governor were not bound by the Brown decision and denied the Arkansas School Board the right to delay desegregation for 2.5 years.

President Dwight Eisenhower telegrams a defiant Governor Orval Faubus, “The only assurance I can give you is that the federal constitution will be upheld by me by every legal means at my command.”

September 8, 1957
Governor Orval Faubus conducts a televised press conference and re-affirms his stance on integration and insists that the federal government cease its demands for integration.

Question to Faubus: "You have called this a legal checker game, I believe. Whose move is it?"

Orval Faubus: "It is a little bit hard to tell at this time."

Faubus says that he has evidence that violence would happen if the Arkansas National Guard had not been called out, but declines to produce it. He is hopeful that the dispute over entering Central High can be over within a week.

Former President Harry Truman is asked by close friends to intervene with Governor Faubus, but he declines.

September 9, 1957

President Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1957 - the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

The legislation is noticeably weakened by the Democratic South, but does include these provisions:
  • Creates the Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department
  • Empowers federal officials to prosecute individuals who conspired to deny or abridge another citizen’s right to vote
  • Establishes a six-member U.S. Civil Rights Commission charged with investigating allegations of voter infringement.

September 10, 1957

Federal District Judge Ronald Davies begins injunction proceedings against Governor Orval Faubus and two National Guardsmen for interfering with integration. The hearing is scheduled for September 20th.

September 14, 1957

Governor Orval Faubus, accompanied by Congressman Brooks Hays, meets with President Eisenhower at Newport, Rhode Island to discuss the unfolding integration crisis at Central High.

The private, twenty-minute meeting between Faubus and Eisenhower yields these statements:

Eisenhower - "The governor stated his intention to respect the decision of the U.S. District Court and to give his full cooperation in carrying out his responsibilities in respect to these decisions."

Faubus - "When I assure the President, as I have already done, that I expect to accept the decisions of the court, I entertain the hope that the Department of Justice and the federal judiciary will act with understanding and patience in discharging their duties."

Although Faubus and President Eisenhower walk away from the meeting cordially, no real progress is made towards an agreement.

Attorney General Brownell, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover all had advised against this meeting.

September 15, 1957
Governor Orval Faubus sits down for an interview with Mike Wallace from the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock - a day after his conference with President Eisenhower in Rhode Island.

Governor Faubus: "The Guard was not called out to prevent integration, but to keep the peace and order of the community..."

Faubus: "In fact, in a poll of the Little Rock area, eighty-two percent of the people agreed that disorder and violence would have occurred, had not I taken the action which I did."

Mike Wallace: "You and I, all of us, have seen photographs, Governor, of Negro children been turned away from Little Rock High school, and behind them white people jeering and cursing at them. Let me read to you what communist propaganda is to make of this; several days ago, Radio Moscow said this, "The shameful spectacle of Negro children confronted by guns and ugly mobs, as they tried to enter schools, which racist elements are determined shall remain all white." Does it not give you pause to know that communist propagandists leap upon your actions to try to discredit the United States in the eyes of the world? In the eyes of the world which is composed of a majority of colored peoples?"

Faubus: "And that is why I want it to occur peacefully, with general acceptance, so that there will never be any such incidents as that. Sure you're quite willing now as others to point out the occurrence in Little Rock, but have you thought of the other occurrences across the land? Can I change the hearts of the people?"

September 16, 1957
Daisy Bates expresses concern at the "double talk" that comes out of the Faubus/Eisenhower conference in Rhode Island, noting that she was "very disappointed" that these two politicians laid out no "straightforward" explanations.

Eisenhower is strongly criticized by the Democratic Advisory Council, the policy-making arm of the Democratic National Committee. This 24-member group whose members include former President Harry S Truman and twice defeated presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson (both losses to Eisenhower, 1952/1956) said that Eisenhower "failed in his duty to make the principle clear to all of the country that the first responsibility of a Governor is to uphold the Federal Constitution." - Washington Post and Times Herald

An Associated Press report in the Arkansas Gazette describes an interview with African American students who are "marking time" until the Central High dispute is settled. Included among student names is sophomore Jane Hill. Her name will also appear in Elizabeth Huckaby's book Crisis at Central High, as Huckaby gathers class assignments for the African American students waiting to enter the school.

September 20, 1957
Federal District Judge Ronald Davies, during an injunction hearing, rules that Governor Orval Faubus had not used Arkansas National Guard troops to prevent violence.

"The petition of the United States of America as amicus curiae for a preliminary injunction against Governor Faubus, General Clinger and Colonel Johnson, and all others named in the petition is granted; and such injunction shall issue without delay, enjoining those respondents from obstructing or preventing, by use of the National Guard or otherwise, the attendance of Negro students at Little Rock Central High School under the plan of integration approved by this Court and from otherwise obstructing or interfering with orders of this Court in connection with the plan of integration."

After being notified that the four attorneys representing him had walked out of the injunction hearing, Governor Faubus says, "Now begins the crucifixion. There will be no cross-examination, no evidence presented for the other side."

Three hours after the hearing ends, Faubus goes on television to announce the removal of the Arkansas National Guard from Central High School as members of the Little Rock Police Department assume duties around the high school campus. He leaves for the Southern Governor's Conference in Sea Island, Georgia.

Faubus tells the press: "I wouldn't think the parents of the Negro children would want their children in school with the situation that prevails now." Daisy Bates says she does not know yet when the students will return and try to enter Central High School.

September 23, 1957
An angry mob of over 1,000 whites gathers in front of Central High School, while nine African American students are escorted inside. The students enter Central High under protection of the Little Rock police and state troopers armed with riot guns and tear gas. The crowd outside becomes very threatening and attacks three out-of-state news reporters.

Four African American journalists - reporters Alex Wilson of the Memphis Tri-State Defender, James Hicks of the Amsterdam News, Moses J, Newsom of the Afro-American newspapers and photographer Earl Davy of Little Rock - are attacked outside Central High School after providing cover for the Little Rock Nine to enter through a side entrance under police escort.

Shortly after the attack near the school, Alex Wilson wrote about what happened to him on the morning and the choice he made that day:

"The disgraceful incident .. , occurred about 8:20 a.m. Monday, near the 16th and Park Street entrance of Central High. I parked my car about two blocks from the intersection. Newsom and I were in front with Hicks and Davy following, when we began the long, apprehensive walk. We had firsthand knowledge of where the nine stout-hearted Negro students were to enter; and we set off at a fast clip to be on hand when they arrived at the campus entrance. About midway of the final block, we picked up a tail of two whites. They made no comment. We kept moving forward. A crowd of about one hundred faced the school (away from us), waiting for the nine students to appear. Then, someone in the crowd of whites spotted us advancing.

Suddenly the angry eyes of the entire pack were upon us. We moved forward to within ten feet of the mob, Two men spread their arms in eagle fashion, One shouted: "'You'll not pass!"

I tried to move to the left of the mob, but my efforts were thwarted. I made a half-turn left from the sidewalk and went over to a Little Rock policeman, who was standing mid-center of the street.

"What is your business?" he asked. I presented my press card. He took his time checking it. Then he said: "You better leave. Go on across the sidewalk" (away from the mob at my heels).

I followed his suggestion. After taking several steps, I looked back. The officer was near the opposite sidewalk, leaving the angry pack to track me.

The mob struck. I saw Davy being roughed up. Hicks and Newsom were retreating from kicks and blows. I stopped momentarily, as the boots and jeers behind me increased.

Strangely the vision of Elizabeth Eckford, one of the nine students, flashed before me as she with dignity strode through a jeering, hooting gauntlet of segregationists several days ago. Maybe, too, my training as a U.S. Marine in World War II and my experience as a war correspondent in Korea, and work on the Emmett Till case [a young African American boy who was lynched in Money, Mississippi, for whistling at a white woman] influenced my decision during that moment of crisis.

I decided not to run. If I were to be beaten, I'd take it walking if I could - not running."

Three and one-half hours after their entrance, school authorities and police remove the African American students through a side door and speed away in police cars. Reporters describe the crowds outside as "hysterical."

Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Mann sends an afternoon telegram to the White House in which he says that the "mob that gathered was no spontaneous assembly" and that it was "agitated, aroused, assembled by a concerted plan of action."

President Eisenhower addresses the "disgraceful occurrences" at Central High School and issues Presidential Proclamation 3204 which commands "all persons engaged in such obstruction of justice to cease and desist therefrom and to disperse forthwith."

Governor Faubus tells the press that he is keeping touch by phone with Lt. Governor Nathan Gordon and that he has "no plans at the moment to return to Little Rock" from Georgia.

September 24, 1957

Mayor Woodrow Mann telegrams the President " the interest of humanity, law and order, and the cause of democracy worldwide to provide the necessary federal troops" to as the "mob is armed and engaging in fisticuffs and other acts of violence." He says the "situation is out of control and police cannot disperse the mob."

A release from the Governors' Conference in Georgia asks that President Eisenhower "notify the Governor of Arkansas that the maintenance of law and order in that State is considered to be the responsibility of the Governor of Arkansas, and that the Federal government will not attempt to exercise Federal responsibility in this matter so long as State and local authorities are able properly to perform this function."

President Eisenhower, informed of another mob at Central High after his cease-and-desist directive, federalizes the Arkansas National Guard, thus removing it from Governor Faubus's authority, and orders federal troops into Little Rock. One thousand members of the 327th Airborne Battle Group of the 101st Airborne Division are flown from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to Little Rock and in place around Central High School by 7:00 p.m.

At 9:00 p.m. EDT, President Eisenhower addresses the nation from the White House indicating his decision and stating that “mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts.”

September 25, 1957
At 9:22 a.m., the Little Rock Nine are escorted through the front doors of Little Rock Central High School by more than 20 members of the 101st Airborne Infantry Division. As the Nine enter the main entrance under the care of 22 men, an Army helicopter circles overhead, 350+ paratroopers are surrounding the school's perimeter, and a crowd of students outside the building chant "2, 4, 6, 8, we ain't gonna integrate" in protest.

The area around the school has been cordoned off from spectators and protesters with only the press allowed inside a three-block perimeter; this is the first occasion since school began three weeks prior that crowds had been prevented from gathering outside Central High School.

Before the Nine arrive at Central, Major General Edwin Walker, head of the Little Rock military district, addresses the student body in Central High's auditorium, telling them that "no one will interfere with coming, going, or your peaceful pursuit of your studies." Meanwhile, Federal Judge Ronald Davies calls for all four high schools in Little Rock to be integrated - Hall, Horace Mann, Little Rock Tech and Central, but only Central will see this take place.

Governor Faubus, silent since returning the previous night from the Southern Governors Conference, releases a statement saying he will go on television and radio the following night to discuss the "naked force being employed by the federal government against the people of my state."

Some 750 of Central High School's 2,000 students are absent.

September 26, 1957
Vice principals at Central bar from class the eighty boys and girls who signed out and left school on Wednesday, when the 101st escorted the African American s into school. Administrators require a conference with school authorities before returning to the building.

Governor Orval Faubus appears on television to address the people of Arkansas. He declares that “We are now in an occupied territory. Evidence of the naked force of the Federal Government is here apparent, in these unsheathed bayonets in the back of school girls.”

October 1, 1957
Federalized National Guard troops begin to take over responsibility from the 101st. School administrators ask them to "stay as much as possible in the background," a technique that Vice Principal Elizabeth Huckaby describes as "an error in judgment."

The 101st Airborne turns over control of the majority of their duties to the federalized Arkansas National Guard. At this point, emboldened by the marginalization of federal troops, those opposed to integration begin to harass the Little Rock Nine within the walls of Central High School.

October 2, 1957
Twenty-five community leaders call for peaceful compliance with the court ordered school integration. Alternatively, the Mother’s League petitions the Federal District Court to remove the 101st Airborne from Central High School on the grounds that their presence violated the state and federal constitution. The petition will be dismissed by Federal Judge Ronald Davies 15 days later.

October 3, 1957
Elizabeth Huckaby, alone, faces down a large group of white students who are confronting the Little Rock Nine outside the building, while other administrators and military officers attend a closed meeting in the principal's office. The student walkout planned for nine A.M. materializes, but many seniors, scheduled for college entrance exams, do not participate. Approximately 150 students walk out, some returning to the building by a side door. Those who remain outside go across the street and bum an African American effigy. Huckaby collects seventy names and school authorities suspend all of these students, pending conferences with their parents and Superintendent Blossom.

October 7, 1957
The sixth week of school and third of integration begins. A new system of assigning two guards per African American student begins for their individual protection. Appealing to segregationist fears, Faubus announces that members of the 101st Airborne Division troops invaded the girls' dressing rooms at Central High. Federal government spokespersons deny this charge.

Faubus says that 101st Airborne Division troops patrolling Central High School have invaded the privacy of girls' dressing rooms. Presidential press secretary James C. Hagerty calls the charge "completely untrue and also completely vulgar."

October 9, 1957
President Eisenhower is asked by a reporter about his opinion on Faubus' decision and the prospect of peaceful integration. In Little Rock, Governor Faubus says he does not think a "cooling off" period is possible at Central High School as long as the Little Rock Nine continue to attend classes. He defines "cooling off" as "a chance for tenseness to be allayed, time for litigation and time for the people to accept peacefully what is being crammed down their throats at bayonet point."

October 12, 1957
A mass prayer with 6,000-7,000 participants was held at churches and synagogues in the city of Little Rock for a peaceful resolution of the integration crisis at Central High School. Those involved did not favor either side of the integration dispute.

October 17, 1957

U.S. District Judge Ronald N. Davies dismisses a petition filed by an officer of the Mothers League of Central High School, which asked that a three-judge court be convened to order federal troops removed from the school.

October 24, 1957

The nine African American students enter Central High's front door for the first time without escort by federal troops.

November 8, 1957
Daisy Bates, President of the Arkansas Chapter of the NAACP, declared in the Arkansas State Press that “We believe that what is happening in Little Rock transcends the question of segregation versus integration. It is a question of right vs wrong, a question of respect against defiance of laws, a question of democracy against tyranny.”

November 14, 1957
Jefferson Thomas, a member of the Little Rock Nine, is struck by a white student so hard that he falls to the ground. Another member of the Nine, Gloria Ray, is
insulted by a white student and pushed as the students are exiting an assembly. With the hopes of preserving the illusion that life was fine inside of Central High School, neither incident was made public.

November 18, 1957

The last 101st Airborne Division troops depart Little Rock, leaving federalized National Guardsmen on duty at Central High, still under the overall command of the 101st's Gen. Edwin A. Walker.

November 20, 1957
Despite constant incursions by “troublemakers” onto school grounds, the Justice Department decided not to prosecute these individuals as long as there was no further trouble.

November 27, 1957
The “last elements” of the 101st Airborne departed Little Rock. Inside LRCHS, a rock is thrown at a hall guard by an unidentified student.

December 12, 1957

Businesses in the downtown area of Little Rock begin to receive anonymous letters warning of a massive boycott against their stores if they continued to advertise in the Arkansas Gazette due to the paper’s stand supporting integration.

December 17, 1957
Minnijean Brown, one of the Little Rock Nine, spills chili on the heads of two white boys who had been attempting to blocker way through the cafeteria by bumping into her with their chairs. For her action, Minnijean will receive a suspension until January 13, 1958. On January 15, 1958, white students will dump their chili on Minnijean in retaliation resulting in their expulsion.

January 8, 1958
Jim Johnson, a leader of the segregationists, files a proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution that would allow for district authorities to close schools that were facing court-ordered integration efforts.

January 10, 1958
Darlene Holloway, a white girl, is suspended after a shoving incident involving Elizabeth Eckford.

January 20, 1958
Central High School receives its 5th bomb threat of the year. This time, dynamite is uncovered from an unused locker.

February 6, 1958

The Little Rock School Board again suspends Minnijean Brown, along with Lester Judkins Jr., who poured soup on her in the cafeteria. Brown has also called Frankie Ann Gregg "white trash" after Gregg hit Brown with a purse.

February 16, 1958

The Little Rock School Board publishes as an advertisement a school board statement on disciplinary policy, saying that it must provide an educational program and that if this means unruly students must be expelled, it will expel them.

February 17, 1958

The Little Rock School Board suspends three white students and expels Minnijean Brown for the remainder of the year. The board charges one white student, Billy Ferguson, with pushing Gloria Ray down a flight of stairs. It suspends Howard Cooper and Sammie Dean Parker for wearing "One Down and Eight to Go" cards. These printed badges refer to Brown's expulsion.

February 20, 1958

Using a form of the Aaron v. Cooper case, the LRSD board files for a delay of two and one-half years in further desegregating Little Rock. The school board asks to be relieved of the burden of desegregation until the U.S. Supreme Court better defines "all deliberate speed," as specified in Brown II (1955).

February 26, 1958

Sammie Dean Parker, a suspended student from Central High, and her mother physically attack Elizabeth Huckaby at a conference in Superintendent Virgil Blossom's office.

March 4, 1958
Amis Guthridge, a lawyer for the Capital Citizens' Council, offers a platform to suspended student Sammie Dean Parker to appear on a live thirty-minute television program, allowing her to say that her expulsion from Little Rock Central was unjust and was used as an example to other white students. March 4: Sammie Dean Parker appears on a 30-minute paid television program to be interviewed by attorney Amis Guthridge, a leader of the segregationist Capital Citizens Council. Parker says she was unjustly suspended as an example to other white students.

March 12, 1958

The Little Rock School Board allows Sammie Dean Parker to reenter Central High for the remainder of the school year after she agrees in writing that she will abide by the school's rules of conduct. Some historians have said that the LRSD board and Superintendent Blossom feared creating white martyrs in the community.

May 5, 1958
It is announced in New York that the Arkansas Gazette has received an unprecedented two Pulitzer Prizes, one the Gold Medal and another for editorial writing.

Tuesday, May 27, 1958
Senior Ernest Green becomes the first African American student to graduate from Central High School during its 149th commencement ceremony held at Quigley Stadium.

June 3, 1958
Highlighting numerous discipline problems during the school year, the school board asks the court for permission to delay the desegregation plan in Cooper v. Aaron.

June 21, 1958
Judge Harry Lemley grants the delay of integration until January 1961, stating that while the African American students have a constitutional right to attend white schools, the “time has not come for them to enjoy [that right.]”

September 12, 1958
Under appeal, the United States Supreme Court rules that Little Rock must continue with its desegregation plan. The School Board orders the high schools to open September 15. Governor Faubus orders four Little Rock high schools closed as of 8:00 a.m., September 15, 1958, pending the outcome of a public vote.

September 16, 1958
The Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) forms and begins to solicit support for reopening the schools.

September 27, 1958
Citizens vote 19,470 to 7,561 against integration and the schools remain closed.

May 5, 1959
Segregationist members of the school board vote not to renew the contracts of 44 teachers and administrators they say supported integration.

May 8, 1959
The WEC and local businessmen form Stop This Outrageous Purge (STOP) and solicit voter signatures to recall the three segregationist board members. Segregationists form the Committee to Retain Our Segregated Schools (CROSS).

May 25, 1959
STOP wins the recall election in close victory. Three segregationists are voted off the school board and three moderate members are retained.

August 12, 1959
Little Rock public high schools reopen, nearly a month early. Segregationists rally at the State Capitol where Faubus advises them that it was a “dark” day, but they should not give up the struggle. They then march to Central High School where the police and fire departments break up the mob. Twenty-one people are arrested.

Last updated: September 12, 2023

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Little Rock Central High School NHS
2120 W. Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive

Little Rock, AR 72202-5212



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