An Epitaph for Little Rock
A Fiftieth Anniversary Retrospective on the Central High Crisis
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Arkansas Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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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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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...
INTRODUCTION: The 1957 Little Rock Crisis— A Historiographical Essay
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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...
LOOKING BACK AT LITTLE ROCK
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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;...
THE WHITE CITIZENS’ COUNCIL AND RESISTANCE TO SCHOOL DESEGREGATION IN ARKANSAS
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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...
POLITICS AND LAW IN THE LITTLE ROCK CRISIS, 1954–1957
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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...
ORVAL E. FAUBUS: Out of Socialism into Realism
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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...
DIVERSITY WITHIN A RACIAL GROUP: White People in Little Rock, 1957–1959
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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...
POWER FROM THE PEDESTAL: The Women’s Emergency Committee and the Little Rock School Crisis
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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...
THE LITTLE ROCK CRISIS AND POSTWAR BLACK ACTIVISM IN ARKANSAS
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“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,...
INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE AND THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO LITTLE ROCK
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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...
AFTER 1957: Resisting Integration in Little Rock
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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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Page Count: 148
Publication Year: 2008