Living in Arkansas, I hear of these 9 students and their brave actions almost on a daily basis. For those unfamiliar (or have been living under a rock for the past 50 years), let me give you a history lesson.
The famous case, "Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka" did away with segregation in the United States. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus was reluctant in letting 9 students enter Little Rock Central High School in the fall of 1957, and called the Arkansas National Guard. President Eisenhower then called the 101 Airborne, who came to Arkansas, and escorted these 9 students as they entered the school.
These 9 have made appearances on Oprah, had a statue monument made in their honor, had a coin issued by the U.S. mint showing nine pairs of feet along with the feet of a soldier, been given the Congressional Medal of Honor, and have been invited to the Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama next week.
Now, let me tell you something I would wager that 99.9% of the folks on here don't know. The Little Rock Nine were NOT the first black students to attend an all-white school in the United States (as I've actually heard this statement on more than one occasion). They weren't even the first black students in the state of Arkansas.
There were 2 students- Barbara Williams and Joe Ferguson (no, not the former Buffalo Bills QB), that attended Charleston High School in Charleston, Arkansas starting in the fall of 1954, 3 years before the Little Rock Nine. These were the first black students to attend an all-white high school, not only in Arkansas, but in the entire south- all 11 former Confederate States.
What's the difference? Well, there were no calls to the National Guard, the President, no coins made in their honor, no invites to the inauguration, and most high school history classes don't even utter their names (other than the ones here in Charleston). There's a small monument at the school in their honor, but nothing significant. Just like the day Joe and Barbara entered the halls at CHS, it's been fairly quiet. No fanfair.
I'm not trying to disregard what the Little Rock Nine accomplished. I would just like to spread a little light as to what really took place, and give credit where it belongs.
Little Rock Nine
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