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. 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. Eisenhower became the first president since the post-Civil War Reconstruction period to use federal troops in support of African-American civil rights.
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
On the morning of September 23, 1957 nine African-American teenagers stood up to an angry crowd protesting integration in front of Little Rock's Central High as they entered the school for the first time. These teenagers faced great obstacles and angry mobs to desegregate Little Rock Central High School. They showed an enormous amount of courage and are considered civil rights activists - meaning that they fought for the right for children all over the country to attend the school of their choice regardless of their race. This event, broadcast around the world, made Little Rock the site of the first important test of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision. Today, history remembers these students as the "Little Rock Nine." Their actions showed the world that individuals who act upon their beliefs can change the course of history.
Last updated: March 31, 2012