Nine african American Students attempted to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The students, known as the LittleRock Nine, were recruited by Daisy Bates andMartin Luther King wrote President Dwight D. Eisenhower requesting a swift resolution allowing the students to attend school
101st Airborne Division
On 4 September 1957, the first day of school at Central High, a white mob gathered in front of the school, and Governor Orval Faubus deployed the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the black students from entering. With the help of police escorts, the students successfully entered the school through a side entrance on 23 September 1957. Fearing escalating mob violence, however, the students were rushed home soon afterward.
End of School Year
Observing the standoff between Faubus and the federal judiciary, King sent a telegram to President Eisenhower urging him to “take a strong forthright stand in the Little Rock situation.” King told the president that if the federal government did not take a stand against the injustice it would “set the process of integration back fifty years.
Eisenhower reluctantly ordered troops from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division to protect the students, who were shielded by federal troops and the Arkansas National Guard for the remainder of the school year.
At the end of the school year, Ernest Green became the first African American to graduate from Central High School. King attended his graduation ceremony. In honor of their momentous contributions to history and the integration of the Arkansas public school system, in 1958 the Little Rock Nine were honored with the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Medal.
“Little Rock School Desegregation.” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, 22 May 2018, kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/little-rock-school-desegregation.