Fifty-four years ago today, nine African American students made their first attempt to enter Little Rock's Central High School. They were met by an angry mob and were turned away by the Arkansas National Guard, acting on the orders of Governor Orval Faubus. One of the students, Elizabeth Eckford (then 15), later recalled that "they moved closer and closer...Somebody started yelling...I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd — someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me."
The students did not successfully enter the school until September 25, when President Dwight Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10730 which federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered the Army’s 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock. They remained under federal protection for the rest of the year.
To learn more the Little Rock Nine, try the following resources:
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My name is Angela Zorn. I work full-time as an educator at Bullitt Central High School in suburban Kentucky where I teach AP US History and AP US Government & Politics. In addition, I provide training & consulting services throughout the United States.