U.S. Military Activities and Civil Rights: Part 4: The Little Rock Integration Crisis, 1957-1958

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Events in the fall of 1957 drew international attention as Little Rock became the epitome of state resistance when Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus directly questioned the sanctity of the federal court system and the authority of the Supreme Court’s desegregation ruling when nine African-American high school students sought an education at Little Rock Central High School.

The controversy in Little Rock was the first fundamental test of the United State’s resolve to enforce African-American civil rights in the face of massive southern defiance during the period following the Brown decisions.

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower was compelled by white mob violence to use federal troops to ensure the rights of African-American children to attend the previously all-white High School, he became the first president since the post-Civil War Reconstruction period to use federal troops in support of African-American civil rights.

This publication covers President Eisenhower’s use of Federal troops and the Arkansas National Guard in the Little Rock integration crisis of 1957-1958. The operation is detailed from the planning for intervention prior to deployment, up to the withdrawal of troops at the

end of the school year. Records include a journal of events, an ODCSOPS summary of the operation, a historical report prepared by the Office of the Chief of Military History, papers on Governor Faubus’ actions with regard to integration, press reports and observations by Army officers on the reaction of the community, and congressional correspondence. The records document official concern over the legality and ramifications of the operation and provide an insight into the problems surrounding this early attempt at school integration.

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