Today in labor history: Eisenhower orders troops to integrate Little Rock schools

intergration520x305

On September 24 in 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock Arkansas to enforce the integration of the city's schools.

Delivering a television speech from the Oval Office, Eisenhower explained his actions to the country: "Speaking from the house of Lincoln, of Jackson, and of Wilson," he said, "my words better convey both the sadness I feel in the action I was compelled today to take, and the firmness with which I intend to pursue this course until the orders of the federal court in Little Rock can be executed without unlawful interference."

Several months earlier following orders of then Governor Orval Faubus, the state's national guard blocked the entrance of the "Little Rock Nine" to the city's Central High school. The "Little Rock Nine" were nine black students chosen to integrate city schools.

Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas national guard removing it from Faubus's control and ordered the 101 Airborne Division of the U.S. Army to protect the students.

The "Little Rock Nine" were subjected to verbal and physical abuse throughout the school year. One student, Melba Pattillo, had acid thrown in her eyes. Pattillo also suffered burns when trapped in a woman's bathroom stall where classmates attempted to burn her alive.

Photo: 101st Airborne at Little Rock Central High. Wikipedia

 

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.

Comments

  • The real heroines and heroes were the African American children students at Little Rock Central High, their parents, the African American communities and white community which supported the children and our country's ideas and practices.
    These were the primary combatants, facing down the U. S government, the National Guard, the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, vicious mad dogs, the obliterating dynamite, the battering, piercing, water columns; White Citizens Councils, white City Hall, and especially those who "did not want to get involved"(as if they were not already, by their virtual silent assent, in the inhuman, murderous, dominant, racist, sexist, anti-labor, chauvinist reality of South).
    These quiet, dark-skinned lithe, little angels(who must have had powerful guardians somewhere beyond) saved the United States of America-if you don't believe it, read long time Communist, James E. Jackson's NEGROES IN BATTLE.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 09/25/2013 12:58pm (1 year ago)

  • I remember these days...the days of a decent hearted president, doing the "right" thing!
    Truth is, this great man "Ike" was a Democrat, who actually became a Republican so that he could win the election...that he did, two times. Much of what following Presidents Kennedy and Johnson accomplished in human rights issues were as a direct result of the groundwork of President Dwight David Eisenhower.

    Posted by jules, 09/24/2013 10:40pm (1 year ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments