In the early fall of 1957, the NAACP registered nine African American students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Their enrollment came three years after the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education
declared segregation in public school illegal, and two years after the Little Rock school board unanimously approved a plan to integrate the city's schools.
Segregationist groups threatened to protest the integration as well as physically block the students from entering the school. On 4 September 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus sided with the segregationists and deployed the Arkansas National Guard to Little Rock to prevent the nine students from attending the first day of class.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower held a meeting with Faubus during which he strongly discouraged further disobedience against the Supreme Court's ruling. Following the unsuccessful discussions, Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent a division of the United States Army to Little Rock on 24 September. With an Army escort, the nine students entered the school and began classes at the end of September.
The Little Rock Nine faced continued harassment throughout their respective tenures at Little Rock Central High School, and in the summer of 1958, Governor Faubus closed the city's public high schools with a plan to lease the buildings out to become segregated private schools. His plan did not materialize, but resulted in a year of closed schools. In 1959, the school board reopened the city's high schools and began classes on 12 August 1959. That year, Ernest Green became the first African American student to graduate from Central High School.
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