The Little Rock Nine

A young Black student looks on as an angry White mob marches toward Little Rock Central High School.

Three years after Brown v. Board many schools were still segregated (separated by race). One of those schools was Little Rock Central High School. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) recruited nine Black high school students. They would attend Little Rock Central High School. They would need to be very brave. 

Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, makes her way through a mob of angry White people on her way to school.

September 4, 1957, was the first day of school. The Little Rock Nine tried to go to Little Rock Central. The National Guard and an angry group of White protestors stopped them. President Dwight Eisenhower had to send the US Army to protect the Little Rock Nine. The Little Rock Nine finally attended their first full day of school on September 25.   

In school, the Little Rock Nine faced harassment and bullying. Some faced physical attacks. One student was expelled for fighting back.  Still, the Little Rock Nine persisted and finished the school year. Ernest Green was the only senior in the group. He became the first African American to graduate from Little Rock Central. 

In the fall of 1958, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus closed Little Rock’s public schools. He did not want to end segregation [separating people based on race]. They would not re-open until the Supreme Court ordered them to reopen. That was not until August, 1959. The remaining members of the Little Rock Nine had to complete high school through the mail. Many of them would go on to have great careers. They have received many honors as pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement. 

What Do You Think? Why do you think it was important for the Little Rock Nine to stand up for what they believed in?  

Photo Credit: [Top]Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division [LC-DIG-ppmsca-03094]; [bottom] Everett Collection Historical/Alamy Stock Photo