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Sun, 09.01.1957

The Little Rock Nine, a story

The Little Rock Nine

*The Little Rock Nine is celebrated on this date in 1957. The Little Rock Nine were nine African American students who were first denied but eventually enrolled to integrate Arkansas Little Rock Central High School.

The U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision occurred on May 17, 1954. Tied to the Fourteenth Amendment, the decision declared all American segregated schools unconstitutional. After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the school board agreed to comply with the high court's ruling.

Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, beginning in September. By 1957, the NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance.

Called the "Little Rock Nine," they were Ernest GreenElizabeth EckfordJefferson ThomasTerrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Minnijean BrownGloria Ray KarlmarkThelma Mothershed, and Melba Pattillo Beals. Ernest Green was the first black to graduate from Central High School. When integration began on September 4, 1957, the Arkansas National Guard prevented the black students from entering due to claims that there was "imminent danger of tumult, riot and breach of peace" at the integration. However, President Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10730, which federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered them to support the integration on September 24 of that year, after which they protected the African American students.

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