Eisenhower Dispatches Federal Troops to Enforce Desegregation
On September 24, 1957, The Little Rock Nine attended their first full day of classes after President Eisenhower ordered the dispatch of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army to ensure the students’ safety and to uphold the law of the Supreme Court.
On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education that segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” In September 1957, as a result of that ruling, nine African-American students enrolled at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The ensuing struggle between segregationists and integrationists, the State of Arkansas and the federal government, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, has become known in modern American history as the “Little Rock Crisis.” The crisis gained world-wide attention. When Governor Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround Central High School to keep the nine students from entering the school, President Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock.
The manuscript holdings of the Eisenhower Presidential Library contain a large amount of documentation on this historic test of the Brown vs. Topeka ruling and school integration. See selections from the digital catalog here.
Photo: Little Rock Nine escorted into Central High School by U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division soldiers. Courtesy of Central High Museum Historical Collections.
Documents: Press release, Executive Order 10730, Providing for the Removal of an Obstruction of Justice Within the State of Arkansas, September 24, 1957
-from the Eisenhower Library