The Legacy of Little Rock

Even after 50 years, most U.S. schools are still racially separate and too often unequal

Will Counts / Arkansas Democrat / AP

Elizabeth Eckford ignoring the insults of Hazel Bryan (2nd from the L), one in the crowd of jeering whites hard on her heels as she heads to Little Rock Central High School where Natl. Guardsmen prevented her entry as 1 of 9 black students trying to attend all-white school.

The 50th anniversary of the Little Rock school crisis is a powerful lesson in the complicated calculus of social change. People on all sides of the civil rights issues in 1957 were shocked by the sight of white mobs and the Arkansas National Guard, under orders from Governor Orval Faubus, blocking nine black children from entering the city's Central High School. When President Dwight Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne to protect the students, some feared this and other efforts to desegregate the nation's schools might signal the start of a second civil war. But the Governor backed down, and on...

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