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Little Rock Crisis

On Sept. 23, 1957, nine brave African-American teenagers walked through an angry mob of whites to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. What followed was a standoff between the state of Arkansas and the federal government over the right of black students to attend an all-white school. Just three years earlier, in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools were unequal. Nonetheless, some state officials defied the ruling. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus was one of them.

When Gov. Faubus ordered the state's National Guard to surround Central High and prevent the nine students from entering, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to escort the students safely into the school and uphold the Supreme Court's ruling. The event became known as the "Little Rock Crisis" and signified one of the many struggles for civil rights in our country's history.

Classroom Resources

Share My Lesson
Free classroom resources are available on AFT's new resource, ShareMy Lesson.  Free registration is required.

Conflict at Little Rock
This middle school lesson plan developed by the Center for Technology and Teacher Education at the University of Virginia focuses on the conflict at Little Rock. It includes most materials needed for the lesson plan, assessment methods, objectives, and links to related sites.

A Senior Year, A Civil Right
In this Fall 2007 American Educator article, Ernest Green, the lone senior of the Little Rock Nine, reflects on his experience at Central High School.

Warriors Don't Cry
Learn about another Little Rock Nine student's experience in this book excerpt from Melba Patillo Beals, published in the Summer 1994 American Educator. The excerpt starts with an opening note by the author, includes two chapters from roughly the middle of her story, and ends with a retrospective by Beals on her extraordinary experience.

The National Park Service: Little Rock Central High School
Central High is a national historic site maintained by the National Park Service. This NPS Web site includes a variety of lesson plans on the crisis at Little Rock. Most are listed as appropriate for grades 9-12, while a few can be taught to younger children.>

Little Rock School Integration Crisis
The Eisenhower Center maintains this site, which includes links to statements by President Eisenhower and Gov. Faubus, as well as their letters and telegrams from that time.