Why historic? Why Ike?
LRCHS is the famous alma mater of The Little Rock Nine, a group of kids who in 1957 attempted to be the first African Americans to attend the school after the supreme court’s Brown Vs. The Board of Education ruling. The governor at the time actually sent the Arkansas National Guard to help prevent the children from entering the school in an act of defiance against the federal government.
With the help of these guardsmen, the kids were harassed and chased away by a mob of over a thousand angry white people.
Said Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine:
They moved closer and closer … Somebody started yelling … I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd—someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.
Enter Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, despite the fact that he may have been somewhat sympathetic to the segregationists, ordered the U.S. Army to defend the students, take control of the National Guard away from Governor Faubus, and allow the kids to attend school under the protection of the 101st Airborne.
It wasn’t easy for the students going forward, and this moment really represented the beginning and not the end of the trials of desegregation. But it was a great victory, nonetheless.
Little Rock Central High School still exists and the student population is diverse and proud of its place in history. The school itself is also a National Historic Landmark and stands as a symbol of one of the most important moments in Civil Rights History.
The 44 Plays for 44 Presidents Festival is honored to reserve a place for LRCH and we sincerely hope you can join us in 2012.