In ordinary time and clime, the election would have been of less than routine interest to most Americans; six unknown men were running to retain their places on the school board of a fair-sized U.S. city. But this was Little Rock, 20 months after segregationist rioting blazed into world headlines and 8½-months after the high schools closed rather than permit Negro children to sit with whites. This election was, in fact, a crucial test of whether Little Rock was ready to begin its return to sanity. Little Rock was.

The contest sprang from...

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