The Negro students who chose to go to Little Rock Central High School for more educational opportunities became symbols of courage in the battle for equality.

All students continue to benefit from the Little Rock Nine’s decision to break the racial barrier to educational equality.


Minnijean Brown
During the 1957 school year, Minnijean faced daily harassment and was suspended from Little Rock Central High School for dumping chili on the white boys who would not let her pass by them in the cafeteria. She was eventually expelled for another run-in with tormentors.

Minnijean Brown Trickey became a social activist.

Elizabeth Eckford
Elizabeth arrived alone, instead of traveling with the others, on the first day of school at Central High, and was turned away by the Arkansas National Guard. As she waded through an angry mob, she found herself on a bus stop bench surrounded by protestors.

Elizabeth Eckford grew up and joined the U.S. Army. She became a military reporter, and an educator.


Ernest Green
Ernest was the first Negro student to graduate from the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School in May of 1958.

Ernest Green became an investment executive.


More on Ernest Green.


Thelma Mothershed
Thelma persevered through the 1957-1958 school year, but because the Little Rock high schools were closed from 1958-1959, she graduated through correspondence while living in Missouri.

Thelma Mothershed Wair taught home economics for twenty-eight years.



Melba Pattillo
Melba began the 1957-1958 school year at Little Rock Central High School, but moved to Santa Rosa, California to complete her senior year. She graduated the year that the Little Rock schools were closed.

Melba Pattillo Beals worked in television and also became a writer.

Gloria Ray
Gloria experienced people calling her names, spitting on her, and physically threatening her. During the 1958-1959 school year, she moved to Missouri to attend the integrated Kansas City Central High School.

Gloria Ray Karlmark grew up to be an educator, mathematician, and patent attorney.

Terrence Roberts
Terrence volunteered to leave Horace Mann High School to go to Central High School. When the Little Rock schools closed during his senior year, he moved to California and graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1959.

Dr. Terrence Roberts became a faculty member of Antioch University in Los Angeles, California, a consultant, and a public speaker.

Jefferson Thomas
Jefferson’s quiet mannerisms and demeanor did not make the harassment at Central High any easier to experience. Like Terrence Roberts, Jefferson volunteered to transfer from Horace Mann. He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1960.

Jefferson Thomas became and retired as a U.S. Department of Defense accountant.

Carlotta Walls
Carlotta had the honor of being the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine. However, that did not keep her from persevering through the harassment and finishing the school year.

Carlotta Walls Lanier founded Lanier and Company, a real estate brokerage firm.

 




Daisy Bates

Daisy Bates, served as president of the Arkansas State Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and was a key advisor to the Little Rock Nine.

Wiley Branton
Wiley Branton was an attorney that represented Little Rock’s Negro students and their families in the court case Aaron vs. Cooper (1956). Though the case was dismissed, it helped to fortify the path of desegregation.

Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was the NAACP’s chief counsel in the Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Periodically, he would come to Little Rock during the 1957 Crisis to aid in the support of the Little Rock Nine.

 



Arkansas National Guard

The Arkansas National Guard was ordered by Governor Faubus to stop the integration of Little Rock Central High School. Later, the Arkansas National Guard was federalized by President Eisenhower to help the Little Rock Nine’s students enter the school.

Virgil Blossom
Virgil Blossom served as Little Rock School District Superintendent during the 1957 desegregation crisis. He was the author of the “Blossom Plan” that detailed a gradual integration of Little Rock’s schools.


Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower served as president of the United States from 1953-1961. After President Eisenhower heard that Governor Faubus planned to resist the Supreme Court Order of Desegregation, he then ordered the Arkansas National Guard to be under federal control.

Eisenhower deployed the 101st Army Airborne Division to Little Rock Central High School to manage crowd control and ensure the success of the integration process.



Orval Faubus
Orval Faubus served as Arkansas’ governor at the time of the Central High crisis. He viewed integration as a potential federally enforced crisis, and sent the Arkansas National Guard to block the Little Rock Nine from entering Little Rock Central High School in September of 1957.


Woodrow Wilson Mann

Woodrow Wilson Mann served as Little Rock’s mayor from 1955-1958. When Governor Faubus used the Arkansas National Guard to stop integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957, Mayor Mann telegraphed President Eisenhower asking for assistance.

101st Airborne Division
The 101st Airborne Division was also known as the United States Army’s “Screaming Eagles.” These paratroopers were sent from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Little Rock, Arkansas to ensure the integration of Little Rock Central High School.


Edwin A. Walker

United States Army Major General Edwin A. Walker was in command of the 101st Airborne Division, the paratroopers deployed to Little Rock Central High School in September 1957.

 

President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued an enforcement proclamation for the integration of Little Rock Public Schools on September 24, 1957.

 

Everyone had an opinion, and in 1957 there were plenty of opinions to go around. From hate mail and propaganda fliers, to student newspaper editorials, words can have tremendous power. The following documents provide insight into the attitudes of the time.

Hate Mail


Dear Mrs. Bates


Letter from Denver


Letter from Pine Bluff (5 pages)


Propaganda



 

Student Editorials


Challenge (2 pages)

Eighth Week (2 pages)

Immaturity


Helmeted Boys

Record Straight

 

All Documents courtesy of UALR Special Collections