SPECIAL ON MLK PART 1 - Flipbook - Page 10
A rally at the state capitol protesting the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In the days that followed, the Little Rock school board condemned the governor’s National Guard
deployment and President Dwight Eisenhower tried to persuade Governor Faubus not to defy the Court’s
ruling. On September 20, Judge Davies ordered the National Guard removed from the school and the Little
Rock Police Department took over to maintain order. Three days later, the police attempted to escort the
students to school but were met by an angry mob of 1,000 white protesters. Little Rock mayor Woodrow
Wilson Mann, asked President Eisenhower to send federal troops to enforce integration and on September
24, President Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock and federalized the entire
10,000 members of the Arkansas National Guard, taking authority away from Governor Faubus. The next
day, the Army troops escorted the students to their first day of class.
Legal challenges and protests to integration continued and the 101st Airborne Division stayed at the
school the entire year. The nine African American students faced verbal and physical abuse. Pattillo had
acid thrown in her face and Ray was thrown down a flight of stairs. In May 1958, senior Green became the
first African American to graduate from Central High School. The next year, Little Rock Central High School
was closed after local citizens rejected by a 3-1 margin a petition to officially integrate the school. The
school reopened in 1959 and the remaining Little Rock Nine students went on to graduate and have
distinguished careers in government, the military, and the media. In 1999, President Bill Clinton recognized
the nine for their significant role in civil rights history, awarding each the Congressional Gold Medal and in
2009, all nine were invited to President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.
The Greensboro Four
A monument at North Carolina AT&T State
University honoring Jibreel Khazan
(formerly known as Ezell Blair Jr.), Franklin
McCain, Joseph McNeil and David
Richmond, four students who became
known as the “Greensboro Four” for their
sit-in protesting segregation at a
Woolworth's department store in 1960.
Photo: Courtesy Cewatkin/Wikimedia Commons
Despite the Brown v. Board of
Education decision, desegregation in the
South came slowly and painfully and young
African Americans were keenly aware of
the hypocrisy. In 1960, four African
American college students – Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil – were
attending the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College. They had become close friends, spending
evenings discussing current events and their place as African Americans in a “separate but equal” society.