Richard Nathaniel Wright (September 4, 1908 – November 28, 1960) was an American author of novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction. Much of his literature concerns racial themes, especially related to the plight of African Americans during the late 19th to mid-20th centuries suffering discrimination and violence. Literary critics believe his work helped change race relations in the United States in the mid-20th century.
On September 4, 1957, the first day of classes at Central High, Governor Orval Faubus called in the Arkansas National Guard to block the black students’ entry into the high school. Later that month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to escort the Little Rock Nine into the school.
Eisenhower and the Little Rock Crisis Can you imagine armed troops blocking you from going to school? That’s what happened in Little Rock, Arkansas in the fall of 1957. Governor Orval Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to prevent African American students from enrolling at Central High School. Central High was an all white school.
The 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Topeka made segregation in public schools illegal. Governor Faubus defied this decision. He also defied a 1955 ruling (Brown II). The 1955 decision ordered that public schools be desegregated with all deliberate speed.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was presented with a difficult problem. He wanted to uphold the Constitution and the laws, but also avoid a possible bloody confrontation in Arkansas, where emotions ran high. What do you think Eisenhower did?
Eisenhower and the Little Rock Crisis President Eisenhower, who was vacationing in Newport, Rhode Island, arranged to meet Governor Faubus there to discuss the tense situation in Little Rock. In their brief meeting, Eisenhower thought Faubus had agreed to enroll African American students, so he told Faubus that his National Guard troops could stay at Central High and enforce order. Once back in Little Rock, Governor Faubus withdrew the National Guard. A few days later, 9 African American students slipped into the school to enroll and a full scale riot erupted. The situation quickly ran out of control, as Governor Faubus did nothing to stop the violence. Finally, the mayor of Little Rock appealed directly to President Eisenhower for help.
Eisenhower and the Little Rock Crisis Eisenhower knew he had to act boldly. He placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal control and sent 1,000 U.S. Army paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division to assist them in restoring order in Little Rock. The daring tactic worked and the African American students were enrolled without further violent disturbances. The law had been upheld, but Eisenhower was criticized both by those who felt he had not done enough to ensure civil rights for African Americans and those who believed he had gone too far in asserting federal power over the states.