Tuesday, September 25, 2007
50 Years Later: Little Rock 9
from npr.org. I combined images of the event with the broadcast of 9/24. The 320x240
screen allotment for the google video makes it hard to see text. I'm working on a solution
"Fifty years ago this month, Little Rock began to desegregate its public schools. Nine black students were assigned to attend the city's Central High. But when the school opened right after Labor Day, white segregationists gathered in a mob. Gov. Orval Faubus defied a federal judge and called in the National Guard to keep the black students out.
The mob won that first day; the mob and the governor, who sensed their power and passion.
The NAACP kept the nine students home for three weeks out of fear for their safety.
A court ordered Faubus to withdraw the Guard, and he did. The Little Rock Nine returned to school on Sept. 23. Outside the building, local police tried to control at least a thousand angry segregationists. When they threatened to storm the school, the police got the children out a back door.
The mob beat several black journalists, one a World War II combat veteran. The pictures were broadcast on television.
That night, the president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, took control.
"An extreme situation has been created in Little Rock," he said. "This challenge must be met, and with such measures as will preserve to the people as a whole their lawfully protected rights."
He ordered units from the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock. They were there by dawn on Sept. 24, 1957. The next day, soldiers escorted the nine students through the front door and into their classrooms.