Little Rock Nine
The Little Rock Nine is not a singing group. You should remember them for being on the frontlines of academic integration.
When the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, it simultaneously ordered the integration of public schools. As a result, nine black students enrolled in Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. Under normal circumstances this would not be newsworthy. But surprisingly the racist governor of Arkansas at the time, Orval Faubus, disobeyed the law and send National Guard troops to block the entrance of the school preventing the black students from entering.
In that Brown v. Board case, the Supreme Court demanded schools integrate, “with all deliberate speed.” This federal mandate is what made the racist Arkansas governor’s actions so reckless and shocking. There was no legal misprint or varying interpretation. He was intentionally ignoring the federal mandate.
This put President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a tough position. Federal power was never openy challenged in that fashion before. If he refused to act, it would set a precedent allowing governors to reject judicial rulings they disagree with. If he was too heavy handed the potential for starting a race war was great. Ultimately, President Eisenhower made the proper decision and he sent federal troops to Little Rock Arkansas. These troops escorted the nine brave children to class. Large throngs of shouting white parents cursed at and spat on the nine students as they entered the gates each door.
On November 9, 1999 the Little Rock Nine received the Congressional Gold Medal.
We should be proud to honor this group and state unequivocally that their sacrifice contributed to equal access to education across the country. Those brave nine students are:
MELBA PATTILLO BEALS, Ph.D.
CARLOTTA WALLS LANIER
ERNEST G. GREEN
GLORIA RAY KARLMARK
MINNIJEAN BROWN TRICKEY
TERRENCE J. ROBERTS, Ph.D.
THELMA MOTHERSHED WAIR