Thursday, September 4, 2014

September 4, 1957


Ed Clark—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Segregationists rousted from an anti-integration protest, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1957
 


 
On September 4, 1957, the "Little Rock Nine" attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School but were turned away by Arkansas National Guard troops called out by the governor. When Elizabeth Eckford arrived at the campus at the intersection of 14th and Park Streets, she was confronted by an angry mob of segregationist protestors. She attempted to enter at the front of the school but was directed back out to the street by the guardsmen. Walking alone, surrounded by the crowd, she eventually reached the south end of Park Street and sat down on a bench to wait for a city bus to take her to her mother’s workplace. Of her experience, Eckford
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 Little Rock Nine enter classroom to register after escort from Army's 101st Airborne Division, September 24, 1957
Grey Villet

Federal troops escorting African American students to school during integration, September, 1957
Ed Clark—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
 
 
Ernest C. Withers
 
 

September 25, 1957, became a historic day in the Nation when nine courageous children risked their lives to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Confronted by a hostile crowd and escorted by the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne, they shouldered the burden of integrating a then segregated public school system. Although the Supreme Court’s Landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education struck down racial segregation in public schools, it was the courageous actions of these nine young champions of school integration that tested the strength of that decision. Their actions not only mobilized a Nation to insure that access to a quality education was granted to all Americans, but they helped to define the civil rights movement. They became known as the Little Rock Nine. via LittleRock9.com

Related: LIFE.com         Brave Hearts: Remembering the Little Rock Nine