September 23

September 23, 1957 – Little Rock Nine

On September 23, 1957, nine African American students effected history in such a manner that may forever be known as the Little Rock Nine.  They were nine students who bravely desegregated  Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  They were finally able to enter the school under federal protection and the authority made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling issued on May 17, 1954. The Supreme Courts ruling had made it perfectly clear that laws enabling the segregation of schools were unconstitutional.

Operation Arkansas, Little Rock Nine

African American students are escorted in September of 1957 by soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division to Central High School in Little Rock,

The students had registered to enter the school, but segregationist along with the support of Governor Orval Faubus were adamantly opposed to their enrollment.

Little Rock Nine protest

A protest against the Little Rock Nine.

On September 4, 1957, the first day of school, Governor Faubus sent the Arkansas National Guard to support the segregationist in blocking the students entrance to the school.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army to federalize the Arkansas National Guard and take them from under control of Governor Faubus. The students were finally able to attend school under protection of the 101st Airborne and the now federally controlled Arkansas National Guard.  The images of students being barred from school by troops echoed around the world.  The Little Rock Nine became an integral part in the civil rights movement because of it’s national and international publicity. President Bill Clinton presented each of the “Little Rock Nine”  The Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.The Little Rock Nine were Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray, Thelma Mothershed and Melba Pattillo.