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From the Archives: 9 Black students in Arkansas at center of school equity battle in 1957

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School.

On Sept. 4, 1957, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus used rifle-toting Arkansas National Guardsmen to prevent nine Black students from entering all-white Central High School in Little Rock. Outside the school a white mob jeered and yelled racist epithets at the teens as they approached.

On Sept. 25, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent armed federal troops to escort the students inside.

In 1999 President Bill Clinton — a former Arkansas governor — awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Dr. Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls Lanier, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed-Wair and Melba Pattillo Beals, collectively known as the Little Rock Nine.

This 1957 article includes outdated language which some may find offensive.

From the Evening Tribune, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 1957:

Governor Defies School Order

Negro Pupils Turned Back In Arkansas

U.S. Judge Reissues Ban on Segregation In Little Rock

Written From PRESS WIRES

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—National Guardsmen called out by Gov. Orval Faubus today forcibly prevented racial integration of Central High School and Faubus insisted at a news conference later that he is not defying a federal court order.

The soldiers, armed with rifles and carbines, turned back nine Negro students who tried to enroll at the 2,000-pupil all-white school.

The troops controlled a disorderly crowd which jeered the Negroes, who were led by a well-dressed unidentified white man.

Later today State Adj. Gen. Sherman Klinger announced that federal marshals are going to try to take Negro children through National Guard lines at the high school.

One Marshal Arrives

The first marshal was reported to have arrived already, although no Negroes were with him.

“There is a bunch of resolute boys who are going to resist,” Klinger said.

Referring to a decision by Federal Judge Ronald Davies last night ordering the Little Rock School Board to “proceed forthwith with integration” despite the presence of troops around the school, Faubus said today, “The governor of the state is the preserver of peace, not a federal judge.”

Under His Orders

Faubus said at his new conference that Negroes were stopped this morning under his orders.

Faubus has maintained that the national Guard was not called out Monday night to maintain segregation at the school, but only to keep “peace and order.”

However, the Little Rock School Board interpreted the move as a block to integration and temporarily called off its federal court-approved gradual desegregation plan which had been scheduled to become effective with school opening yesterday.

Judge Reissues Order

Last night, Judge Davies, for the second time since Friday, directed the board to proceed with integration at Central High.

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