Remembering the Little Rock Crisis in Documents

Little Rock, 1959. Rally at the state capitolOn September 25, 1957, fifty years ago yesterday, nine African American students attended school at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, under the watchful eye of 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, a mob of angry segregationists, and media the world over. Though President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s mobilization of federal troops to protect the Little Rock Nine from mob violence has been traditionally interpreted as reluctant, based in the need to preserve the authority of the Supreme Court rather than out of any real commitment to integration, the use of federal authority against local and state segregationist forces was nonetheless a seminal moment in the postwar civil rights movement.  On its web site, the Eisenhower Presidential Library has a good collection of primary source documents relating to the Little Rock Crisis.  Readers may also be interested in the NPS web site for Central High School (now a National Historic Site), and the Association of American University Presses’s massive “Books for Understanding” bibliography of scholarship on race relations in the U.S.

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