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An Epitaph for Little Rock

A Fiftieth Anniversary Retrospective on the Central High Crisis

Edited by John A. Kirk

Publication Year: 2008

This collection of essays mines the Arkansas Historical Quarterly from the 1960s to the present to form a body of work that represents some of the finest scholarship on the crisis, from distinguished southern historians Numan V. Bartley, Neil R. McMillen, Tony A. Freyer, Roy Reed, David L. Chappell, Lorraine Gates Schuyler, John A. Kirk, Azza Salama Layton, and Ben F. Johnson III. A comprehensive array of topics are explored, including the state, regional, national, and international dimensions of the crisis as well as local white and black responses to events, gender issues, politics, and law. Introduced with an informative historiographical essay from John A. Kirk, An Epitaph for Little Rock is essential reading on this defining moment in America's civil rights struggle.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-ix

Fifty years ago Little Rock, Arkansas, was the scene of a truly telling moment in American history. The president of the United States, the governor of Arkansas, and nine black children took center stage for several days as surrogates for Americans caught in the battle over the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the nation’s schools be racially integrated. That crisis brought federal troops into an...

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p. xi

As a current editorial board member of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly I am delighted that this volume is able to showcase the journal’s vital role in state and regional history. I am grateful to the current editor, Patrick G. Williams, and assistant editor Michael Pierce for running with my idea of a special edition to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Little Rock school crisis, supporting...

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INTRODUCTION: The 1957 Little Rock Crisis— A Historiographical Essay

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pp. xiii-xxv

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of a central episode in America’s civil rights history, this book brings together a number of the signal works that have been published on the Little Rock crisis in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly since the 1960s. These articles represent some of the finest scholarship on the crisis that has appeared anywhere and reflect the wide-ranging concerns that...

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pp. 1-10

Relatively progressive Upper South capital city Little Rock, Arkansas, was among the first communities below the Potomac to make preparations for compliance with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.1 The percentage of Negro students in Little Rock public schools was less than that of Wilmington, Delaware; Louisville, Kentucky; St. Louis, Missouri;...

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pp. 11-25

It is one of the ironies of southern history that Hoxie and Little Rock, Arkansas, have become synonyms for white resistance to desegregation in the era of the “Second Reconstruction.” In May 1954, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the school segregation cases, few suspected that in the troubled years ahead Arkansas would provide Deep South intransigents with...

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pp. 27-41

On the morning of September 3, 1957, the world learned that Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas had blocked the federally mandated integration of Little Rock Central High School. The governor’s action initiated a confrontation between state and federal authority that persisted for two years.1 Proponents of integration believed that political ambition was behind Faubus’s decision...

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ORVAL E. FAUBUS: Out of Socialism into Realism

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pp. 43-54

Orval E. Faubus was reared a liberal. His father, Sam Faubus, was a Socialist who detested capitalism and bigotry with equal fervor. The son’s critics, myself included, have accused him through the years of selling out the beliefs of his father on both race and economics. The story may be less straightforward than that. Orval Faubus came to power in Arkansas after World War II when two...

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DIVERSITY WITHIN A RACIAL GROUP: White People in Little Rock, 1957–1959

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pp. 55-63

Diversity has become a buzzword. It conveys a desire to open institutions of power to previously excluded groups. This is a worthy goal. But in today’s discussions, diversity carries a meaning so restricted as to undermine this goal. In the national media, the word now refers almost exclusively to racial and ethnic diversity, implying that a skin-deep racial and ethnic diversity will...

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POWER FROM THE PEDESTAL: The Women’s Emergency Committee and the Little Rock School Crisis

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pp. 65-87

In the spring of 1957, Little Rock was, by most accounts, a thriving and progressive southern city. In the postwar decade, the city’s leaders vigorously pursued a plan of economic development, and race relations were considered good and improving.1 In voluntary compliance with the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision, Little Rock School District officials developed a desegregation...

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pp. 89-102

“History is something that happens when the White Folks show up,” writes civil rights scholar Charles M. Payne in a critical assessment of written accounts of the past.1 Certainly this analysis rings true when one looks at the work on the 1957 Little Rock school crisis over the past forty years. Numerous firsthand accounts have provided us with a variety of white perspectives,...

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pp. 103-113

Segregation received more international criticism than any other area of U.S. race relations in the post–World War II period. The Truman and Eisenhower administrations’ racial reforms were a response not only to an increasingly effective civil rights movement in the U.S. South but also to international politics. Segregation hindered appeals to potential allies in competition with the...

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AFTER 1957: Resisting Integration in Little Rock

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pp. 115-134

Adolphine Fletcher Terry grew despondent. The resistance by vocal, organized citizens to school integration roiled Little Rock. She regretted that influential and prominent community leaders remained on the sidelines. Characteristically, she did not hold her fire. Her status as a member of one of the city’s leading families, as well as her involvement in the twentieth century’s signal...


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pp. 135-178


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pp. 179-180


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pp. 181-190

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781610751421
E-ISBN-10: 1610751426
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557288745
Print-ISBN-10: 1557288747

Page Count: 148
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 769187840
MUSE Marc Record: Download for An Epitaph for Little Rock

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Subject Headings

  • Whites -- Arkansas -- Little Rock -- Attitudes.
  • Little Rock (Ark.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- Arkansas -- Little Rock -- History -- 20th century.
  • African American students -- Arkansas -- Little Rock -- History -- 20th century.
  • School integration -- Arkansas -- Little Rock -- Historiography.
  • Central High School (Little Rock, Ark.) -- Historiography.
  • Central High School (Little Rock, Ark.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Arkansas -- Little Rock -- Attitudes.
  • School integration -- Arkansas -- Little Rock -- History -- 20th century.
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