1957 – President Eisenhower intervenes to help the Little Rock Nine

The Little Rock Nine were a group of nine black high school students who were enrolled to begin classes to begin classes in September of 1957 at the Little Rock Central High School, in Little Rock, Arkansas. The nine students – Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed and Melba Beals – arrived at the schooll on September 4 to find their path blockaded by the Arkansas National Guard, who had been ordered out the by the state’s Governor – in direct violation of a Supreme Court ruling ordering the end of segregation.

A tense stand-off ensued, with segregationists and intergrationists arguing vociferously and holding rallies in favour of their causes. Finally, on September 24, President Eisenhower federalised the Arkansas National Guard (thus placing them under his command rather than the Governor’s) and sent in the 101st Airborne division of the US Army. They peacefully dispersed the blockade and took up positions to prevent its reinstatment. The following day, the Little Rock Nine entered the school and began classes, although there remained a considerable amount of racism directed towards them by some white students.

Referenced in:

We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel