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Elizabeth Eckford

April 20, 2011 in 1950s-1960s

"Eckford Sept. 23, 1957"

Eckford's walk to school surrounded by white protesters

Elizabeth Eckford was one of the members of The Little Rock nine, a group of African American students who became enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Eckford and the other eight were the first African American students to attend school in Little Rock Central High School and the event didn’t come without controversy. This event is one of the most memorable events of integration that came as a result from the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of 1954. According to Lenda P. Hill, “The U.S. Supreme Court with one historic decision had ruled that racially segregated schools were illegal and unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas, 1954).” [Hill 456] The ruling was very important and much needed of the civil rights movement, it was starting to bring some equality for African American students, an equality they needed and deserved even if most of the white community didn’t agree with it. Hill goes on to quote the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Negro Education Charles  H. Thomson who said, “The implementation of the Court’s decision outlawing segregated schools is one of the most important social problems facing the country…… Certainly, it is the most important social and educational problem facing some 50 million of our citizens…”[Hill 456]

The ruling was a positive for the civil rights movement but a problem that many young African American students had to face because of the hostility towards them from whites who didn’t want them in their schools. Elizabeth Eckford and the rest of The Little Rock Nine are a good example of that problem that was raised from the hostility of whites in the south. One can only imagine the fear that Eckford and the rest of the Little Rock Nine had as they approached the school; with many white students and even adults screaming at them and protesting their presents at the school. According to an article in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, “as Elizabeth slowly approached the entrance to the school, she was surrounded by an angry mob. Scores of adult and young whites were cursing and taunting her….at times the mob uncontrollably surged forward, threatening Elizabeth’s life.” [Journal of Blacks in Higher Education] That was the problem Eckford and other young African Americans faced when they made history for their people in this country; they entered “white schools” and integrated them not only for their education but to also to further the civil rights movement as a whole and to bring about equality for the future.

Many of their young lives were threatened and they were willing to risk it and take the abuse all for the overall cause. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education goes on to say that as Eckford moved further toward the door “the crowd became infuriated…screaming “Lynch her. Lynch her.” The mob was chanting, “No n—er b–ch is going to get in our school. Drag her over to this tree. Let’s take care of that n—er.” [Journal of Blacks in Higher Education] Eckford and the other young African Americans were taking a huge risk in being some of the first African Americans to integrate into “white schools,” their lives could have been at stake, if there wasn’t people there to protect them many might have. There’s a reason why The Little Rock Nine is so well know, one for the courage that the young African American students showed and two for the hostility that so many whites showed towards the students for doing what they had the right to do. The Little Rock Nine will be forever be remembered for their bravery and the stand they took for their people for equality and their help in the civil rights movement. In fact, a bronze sculpture of The Little Rock Nine was unveiled on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol Building.[Journal of Blacks in Higher Education]

"Little Rock Nine Memorial"

Bronze sculptures of the Little Rock Nine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources:

1. Hill, Lenda P. “From Brown to The Journal of Negro Education With Six Degrees of Separation.” < http://www.jstor.org/stable/40034587>

2.Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. “Fifty Years Ago: The Little Rock Nine Integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/25073748>

3.Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. “In Honor of the Little Rock Nine.” <http://www.jstor.org/stable/25073299>

4. The Journal of Dera R. Williams: A Room of My Own. <http://derarwilliams.blogspot.com/2009/10/memory-monday-little-rock-nine.html> Image #1

5. LSC.gov.  <http://www.lsc.gov/press/updates_2007_detail_T158_R11.php> Image #2

by Measha

Can the past repeat itself?

October 15, 2010 in 1960s-1970s

Link to KET video of Audrey Grevious - needs RealPlayerLink to KET video of Audrey Grevious - needs RealPlayerOn October 14 I attended the on this site AASRP Race Dialogues “Sisters in the Struggle” and watched the video focusing on Lexington educator and civil rights activist, Audrey Grevious. It really interested me how she took a stance against segregation. She became president of the local NAACP and decided to change Lexington. It is remarkable how she was able to change the schools, lunch counters, and jobs. She fought for so much change and was able to create it, but as we talked to Valinda Livingston and she stated her situations with racism and even in the early 90s still having situations with segregation among the schools. When Mrs. Livingston stated how the principal called her for advice on how to teach and discipline African American children because they were going to start busing the students it really suprised me. Segregation ending in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education and to see from her story that Lexington was still going not all the way integrated with their school systems and almost appalled me. Also Mrs. Grevious in her interview was see that things were slowly going back to the past and that she would not like to see that happen, and in some instances from the video and the story from Mrs. Livingston it sees that things are slowly going back to those ways. My question is do you really think history can repeat itself?

by kcjohn2

Kentucky’s Integration of Schools

October 3, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Social history

In 1955, at the age of 16, Helen Case became the first black student to enroll in a historically all white school in Kentucky. Although she only enrolled in summer school at Lafayette High School, this was a huge step in furthering the civil rights movement in Kentucky. A Texas newspaper called the Victoria Advocate wrote, “No school in Kentucky has yet announced any intention of integrating schools by next autumn, but some have indicated they plan to do so by the fall of 1956.” It is ironic that a newspaper in Texas would document this event, but in all my research I cannot find anything in the Herald Leader (the Lexington newspaper) about this event.

Even though Brown v. Board of Education, which deemed segregation to be unconstitutional, was decided in 1954, it was not until 1956 that Kentucky schools became integrated. This was not without opposition, especially in Sturgis (Union County) and Clay (Webster County). The events, which took place in Sturgis and Clay were almost like Kentucky’s version of the Little Rock Nine. Just like in Little Rock, there were also nine in Sturgis. The black students did not end up attending school that day because of the loud, violent crowds that greeted them upon their arrival at school. As they did in Little Rock, the National Guard was called in the next day, September 5th, to ensure safety and stayed through September 22nd. The school boards of Union and Webster counties ultimately decided the African American students enrolled in the schools illegally. The governor’s proclamation on these events summed up this decision by saying, “Late on the afternoon of the 18th, however, he Union and Webster County Boards of Education rekindled the controversy by voting to officially bar black students from their schools.  This came on the strength of an opinion by Attorney General Jo M. Ferguson.  Ferguson ruled that the Negro students were enrolled illegally, since neither Webster nor the Union County school boards had implemented an integration program.” The two counties board of education’s interpreted the decision to integrate schools as their own even after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

“1st Negro Enters Kentucky School.” The Victoria Advocate.7 June. 1955: A-4.

Trowbridge, John M. “Sturgis and Clay: Showdown for Desegregation in Kentucky Education.” Department of Military Affairs. 2006.

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