Little Rock Nine


An alternate-angle view of Elizabeth Eckford on her first day of school, taken by an Associated Press photographer. Hazel Bryan can be seen behind her in the crowd. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)
An alternate-angle view of Elizabeth Eckford on her first day of school, in a photo taken by an Associated Press photographer. Hazel Bryan can be seen behind her in the crowd. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

On September 25, the Little Rock Nine entered the school under heavily armed guard.

Troops remained at Central High School throughout the school year, but still the Black students were subjected to verbal and physical assaults from a faction of white students. Melba Patillo, one of the nine, had acid thrown in her eyes, and Elizabeth Eckford was pushed down a flight of stairs. The three male students in the group were subjected to more conventional beatings. Minnijean Brown was suspended after dumping a bowl of chili over the head of a taunting white student. She was later suspended for the rest of the year after continuing to fight back. The other eight students consistently turned the other cheek. On May 27, 1958, Ernest Green, the only senior in the group, became the first Black person to graduate from Central High School.

Bottom row (L-R): Thelma Mothershed, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Gloria Ray; Top row (L-R): Jefferson Thomas, Melba Pattillo, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Daisy Bates (NAACP President), Ernest Green, 1957. (Credit: Everett Collection Historical/Alamy Stock Photo)
Bottom row (L-R): Thelma Mothershed, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Gloria Ray; Top row (L-R): Jefferson Thomas, Melba Pattillo, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Daisy Bates (NAACP President), Ernest Green, 1957. (Credit: Everett Collection Historical/Alamy Stock Photo)

Governor Faubus continued to fight the school board’s integration plan, and in September 1958 he ordered Little Rock’s three high schools closed rather than permit integration. Many Little Rock students lost a year of education as the legal fight over desegregation continued. In 1959, a federal court struck down Faubus’ school-closing law, and in August 1959 Little Rock’s white high schools opened a month early with Black students in attendance. All grades in Little Rock public schools were finally integrated in 1972.

READ MORE: The Civil Rights Movement

Citation Information

Article Title

Little Rock Nine begin first full day of classes

AuthorHistory.com Editors

Website Name

HISTORY

URL

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/central-high-school-integrated

Access Date

September 24, 2021

Publisher

A&E Television Networks

Last Updated

September 22, 2021

Original Published Date

November 24, 2009

BY HISTORY.COM EDITORS