Little Rock Nine Telisha Jackson Topics in Historical Study HI 252A Professor Eric Schoeck One morning in Little Rock, Arkansas, nine of the most courageous young black teenagers woke up from their beds scared but determine to make a difference. They had no idea that not only would this decision they made to desegregate Central High would effect them, but also their families and communities. These teenagers knew that this was going to be a dangerous situation but not to the extent that it was.
The Little Rock Nine began their trip to that all white segregated high school where they were faced with hatred, racism and death threats. The only thing that kept these teenagers from turning back was determination and their faith in God. On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court rules that separate schools for whites are illegal, a ruling called Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. In 1955 Little Rock adopted a plan that they were going to let limited integration into Central High School, but it won’t actually happen until September 1957.
During that year of 1955, teachers sent around sign up sheets for student who wanted to go to the all-white Central High School. Surprisingly many children signed up, but only seventeen were chosen based on their academics. The selection process had taken such a long time that the children who signed the list had actually forgotten, and didn’t remember until a news report came on listing all the children that had been selected. After the ridicule for their own families and death threats from white people eight had reneged and the nine students left now known as the “The Little Rock Nine” started their courageous battle.
Several times in the few days before school is supposed to start, lawsuits are filed that threaten to stop the nine students. Governor Faubus declares that he is going to send the Arkansas National Guard to the high school, though he does not say whether they are there to protect the nine or to stop them from entering the school. September 3, 1957 the first day of school the nine students went with anticipation that that would be the first day of Central High School only to be greeted by a vicious mob or white people and the Arkansas National Guard and weren’t allowed to enter the building until weeks later.
President Eisenhower and Governor Faubus meet and attempt to resolve the problem of integration in Arkansas, but the meeting is unsuccessful, and on September 20, 1957, the State of Arkansas goes to federal court before Judge Davies. Judge Davies rules that the Arkansas National Guard must be removed and that the Little Rock Nine must be allowed into Central High School. Governor Faubus removes the guard and predicts that blood will run in the streets of Little Rock if the schools are integrated. On Monday, September 23, 1957, the students go to school. They are again greeted by a mob of angry white people.
In the middle of one class, one student is forced to flee to the principal’s office, as the mob had broken the barricades and is headed for the school. Someone in the principal’s office proposes that they give the crowd one of the children to kill so the others can escape. Gene Smith, the assistant chief of police, smuggles the nine students out of the school. The day after the mob attack, President Eisenhower has announced he will use force to prevent this kind of mob rule and to enforce federal law. The next day, the 101st Airborne Division (a division of war heroes) arrives in Little Rock.
Each black student had their own escort from the 101st Airborne Division. In October, 3 of the student meet with some of Central High’s white students under the guidance of a Norwegian reporter, Mrs. Jorumn Rickets, who hoped to foster some sort of understanding between the two groups. The meeting is a failure. Eisenhower withdrew the 101st Airborne, and the nine students are forced to rely on the Arkansas National Guard for protection. The Nine continue to be terrorized: one day, white girls attacked one student in the showers and hold her under scalding water.
At the same time, the newspaper that Mrs. Bates (the President of the NAACP in Little Rock) ran was being financially ruined by white businesspeople, and the State Attorney threatened NAACP officials across the state. On December 17th, white boys surround another of Little Rock 9 in the school cafeteria. She in turn threw hot chili on two of the boys. She suspended. The segregationists start a new chant: “One nigger down and eight to go. ” The student, Minnijean is allowed to return to school, and a short while later, a white boy pours a bucket of soup on her head.
Later, the boy who poured soup on Minnijean attacks her, and a fight begins. Nobody knows exactly what happened, but the white students allege that Minnijean fought back. Minnijean is expelled from Central High School, and three white students are suspended. The NAACP arranged for a scholarship for Minnijean at a high school in New York. The end of the school year is approaching, and the segregationists are desperate to keep Ernie, the oldest of the nine, from graduating. Through nn Yet, on May 27, Ernie graduates.