The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation.
After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the school board agreed to comply with the high court's ruling.
Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957.
The nine were greeted by an angry mob as they tried to enter the school, however, soon after, the President got involved. In a televised speech delivered to the nation, President Eisenhower stated, “Mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of the courts.” On September 25, 1957, under federal troop escort, the Little Rock Nine made it inside for their first full day of school.
Their names were Thelma Mothershed Wair, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, and Melba Pattillo Beals.