Little Rock Nine

In the Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954, segregation of schools in the United States was declared unconstitutional. The School Board of Little Rock, Arkansas, immediately said that they would fully comply with this decision as soon as the Supreme Court laid out the procedure for doing that.

At that time, the state of Arkansas was very much in favor of integration of schools. In 1949, the Law School of the University of Arkansas was integrated. In 1954, integration began in the Little Rock Public Library. The School Board started to make plans in 1955 to begin integration of the high schools by 1957.

The NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, became angry because they thought that two years was too long to wait. However, the court disagreed and felt that the School Board had a good plan and would make sure it would work out well. By 1957, also, seven of the eight state universities became integrated. The city's public buses were integrated too.

In the spring of 1857, members of the Little Rock School Board talked with the 517 black students who lived in the Central High School district. The members of the Board asked which ones would be interested in switching to Central High School from their all-black school. Eighty replied that they would. The school held interviews and narrowed the number to seventeen. Of those, seven decided later to stay at Horace Mann High School. That left the 'Little Rock Nine.'

In August 1957, a group called the Mothers' League of Central High School formed and persuaded a county official to block the integration because violence might occur. On August 30, a federal judge took away the block, but on Sept. 2, the governor, Orval Faubus, called the National Guard to take positions around the high school, supposedly to prevent violence. In reality, he wanted to prevent the black students from entering the school because he was a segregationist.

The judge ordered classes to begin on Sept. 4. On that day, 100 National Guardsmen surrounded the school. 400 white protestors shouted and harassed the black students who were trying to enter the school. The National Guard would not let the nine students pass. The white people threatened to lynch Elizabeth Eckford, one of the students. A caring white woman took her to safety.

The judge ruled that the governor had used the troops to prevent integration, so the governor had to remove them. On Sept. 23, the nine students were led through a side door to the school with 1,000 protestors outside. They were later taken out by the police for their own safety. On Sept. 24, the mayor of Little Rock sent a telegram to President Eisenhower to ask for troops to allow the integration. He did send troops. The President also went on national television to tell about what he had to do to prevent mob rule in Arkansas.

All nine students were constantly taunted and sometimes even beaten during the school year by other students. However, in May 1958, Ernest Green, one of the nine, graduated from Central High School.

Because Governor Faubus so strongly opposed integration, he closed Little Rock's three high schools in the fall of 1958, rather than allow them to be integrated. The battle went on for a year. Many students lost a year of education. In 1959, a federal court struck down Faubus' order to keep the schools closed. In August 1959, all Little Rock's high schools opened one month early. The schools were integrated. However, it took until 1972 for all levels of schools in Little Rock to be integrated.

A: Wilson
B: Harrison
C: Eisenhower
D: Nixon

A: Eisenhower
B: Wilson
C: Harris
D: Faubus

A: Horace Mann
B: Westside
C: Central
D: North City

A: 1969
B: 1959
C: 1945
D: 1935

A: 1954
B: 1959
C: 1972
D: 1957

A: Eighty black students wanted to enter Central High School in August 1957.
B: No black students graduated from Central High School at the end of the first school year.
C: One black student graduated from Central High School at the end of the first school year.
D: During the first school year, the Little Rock Nine were treated well by the white students.

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