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Civil Rights: The Little Rock School Integration Crisis

 

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court 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 to insure the safety of the "Little Rock Nine" and that the rulings of the Supreme Court were upheld. 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.

Press release, President Eisenhower's telegram to Governor Faubus, September 5, 1957 [Kevin McCann Collection of Press and Radio Conferences and Press Releases, Box 20, September 1957]

Telegram, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus to President Eisenhower, September 12, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5-A (1)]

Press release, statements by President Eisenhower and Governor Faubus from Newport, Rhode Island, September 14, 1957[Kevin McCann Collection of Press and Radio Conferences and Press Releases, Box 20, September 1957]

Diary - notes dictated by President Eisenhower on October 8, 1957 concerning meeting with Governor Faubus at Newport, Rhode Island, September 14, 1957 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 23, Little Rock Ark (2)]

Press release, statement by the President from the U.S. Naval Base, Newport, Rhode Island, September 21, 1957 [Gerald D. Morgan Records, Box 6, Civil Rights (2)]

Telegram, Woodrow Wilson Mann, Mayor of Little Rock, to President Eisenhower, September 23, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5-A (2)]

Press release, Proclamation 3204, Obstruction of Justice in the State of Arkansas, by the President of the United States of America, September 23, 1957[Kevin McCann Collection of Press and Radio Conferences and Press Releases, Box 20, September 1957]

Press release, Executive Order 10730, Providing for the Removal of an Obstruction of Justice Within the State of Arkansas, September 24, 1957 [Kevin McCann Collection of Press and Radio Conferences and Press Releases, Box 20, September 1957]

Telegram, Woodrow Wilson Mann to President Eisenhower, September 24, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5-A (2)]

Letter, President Eisenhower to General Alfred Gruenther, September 24, 1957 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 16, Alfred M. Gruenther 1956-57 (2)]

Handwritten notes by President Eisenhower on decision to send troops to Little Rock, September 1957 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 23, Little Rock, Arkansas (2)]

Press release, containing speech on radio and television by President Eisenhower, September 24, 1957[Kevin McCann Collection of Press and Radio Conferences and Press Releases, Box 20, September 1957]

Draft of above speech on Little Rock, undated [DDE’s Papers as President, Speech Series, Box 22, Integration-Little Rock Ark 9/24/1957]

Telephone calls, September 24, 1957 [DDE's Papers as President, DDE Diary Series, Box 27, Sept. 1957 Telephone Calls]

Telephone calls, September 25, 1957 [DDE's Papers as President, DDE Diary Series, Box 27, Sept. 1957 Telephone Calls]

Telegram, Congressman Oren Harris, Arkansas, to President Eisenhower, September 26, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5-A (3)]

Telegram, Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell to President Eisenhower, September 26, 1957 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 23, Little Rock Arkansas (2)]

Letter, President Eisenhower to Senator Russell, September 27, 1957 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 23, Little Rock Ark (2)]

Letter, President Eisenhower to Congressman Oren Harris, September 30, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5-A (3)]

Telegram, parents of the nine African-American students to President Eisenhower, October 1, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5 (5)]

Telegram, Senator John Stennis, Mississippi, to President Eisenhower, October 1, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5-A (4)]

Letter, President Eisenhower to Mr. W.B. Brown, October 4, 1957 (identical letter sent to each set of parents) [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142 A-5-A (5)]

Letter, President Eisenhower to Senator Stennis, October 7, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5-A (7)]

Letter, J. Lee Rankin, U.S. Solicitor General, to Sherman Adams, Assistant to the President, concerning list of Court orders and plans for school desegregation, October 28, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5 (4)]

Attachment to Rankin letter listing court orders and plans for school desegregation, undated [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 615, OF 142-A-5 (4)]

Situation Report No. 176, by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations, December 17, 1957 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 17, Little Rock Vol. I—Reports (7)]

Situation Report No. 211, February 6, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 17, Little Rock Vol. I—Reports (8)]

Situation Report No. 217, February 14, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 17, Little Rock Vol. I—Reports (8)]

Situation Report No. 218, February 17, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 17, Little Rock Vol. I—Reports (8)]

Situation Report No. 226, February 27, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 17, Little Rock Vol. I—Reports (8)]

Situation Report No. 233, March 10, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 17, Little Rock Vol. I—Reports (8)]

Letter, Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower, May 13, 1958 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 614, OF 142-A (6)]

Letter, President Eisenhower to Jackie Robinson, June 4, 1958 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 614, OF 142-A (6)]

Images in the audiovisual collection

Secondary sources on this topic include:

The Eisenhower Administration and Black Civil Rights by Robert F. Burk, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1984.

A Moderate Among Extremists: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the School Desegregation Crisis by James C. Duram, Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1981.

The White House Years: Waging Peace, 1956-1961 by Dwight D. Eisenhower, Heinemann: London, 1966.

Crisis at Central High by Elizabeth Huckaby, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.

Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality by Richard Kluger, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976.

Black Man in the White House by E. Frederic Morrow, New York: Coward-McCann, 1963.

For additional information please see:

Civil Rights School Integration Subject Guide