CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL INTEGRATION
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka is one of America’s most famous Supreme Court rulings. The conclusion of the case was that racial segregation in educational facilities was unconstitutional, and therefore meant that integration in the Southern schools was imminent. The decision was made on May 17, 1954, and although a decision was made a mere five days later by the Little Rock School board that the district would abide by the Supreme Court Decision, they also implemented a very gradual plan that wouldn’t allow integration to happen until approximately three and a half years later.
In the spring of 1957 there were 517 black students who lived in the Central High School District, and 80 expressed an interest in attending the integrated school. After completing interviews, the school board narrowed it down to 17 students who would attend the new school the following fall. 8 of these students eventually got cold feet and wound up staying at the all black school, which left the school board with the famous group known as the “Little Rock Nine”. This group would be the core that would fight through the upcoming battle simply to go to a better school.
In August of 1957, a group known as the Mother’s League of Central High School won a temporary injunction against the integration based on their presumption that it would lead to violence, this injunction was removed by a judge on August 30, prompting heavy segregationist Arkansas governor Orval Faubus to take a different approach to prevent the integration. On September 2, the Governor called on the Arkansas National Guard to surround the school and prevent the black students from attending the campus. A federal district Judge ordered that the first day of school for the students would be September 4th. On that day, 100 armed guards and a mob of white civilians made this incredibly difficult for the students, with the mob shouting racial epithets and threatening violence.
The opposition by Governor Faubus was the first test for Brown v. Board of Education. The standoff would continue until a September 20th ruling said that Faubus was not using the guard to preserve the law, but simply to prevent integration. On September 23rd, the Little Rock Nine ventured towards the school white a mob of 1,000 civilians protested outside. Although they would make it inside, the students were quickly evacuated due to fears that the mob would turn violent. It was not until President Eisenhower enlisted the National Guard to protect the black students on September 25, that they were able to attend a day of class. The students faced consistent ridicule throughout the year with verbal taunts and violent actions from other student. Governor Faubus was no help. In September of 1958, he ordered all the integrated schools to be closed, with only one of the Little Rock Nine having graduated. The schools would remain closed until the following year where the formerly white only schools opened with black students in attendance. Little Rock school district became fully integrated in 1972.