Question 1 – Model Answer.
(a) Using source A and your own knowledge describe events at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. (8 Marks)
In 1955, the Supreme Court handed down a second ruling that became known as Brown II that ordered all schools to desegregate with speed. President Eisenhower initially refused to enforce desegregation because he didn’t want to use force. Arkansas was the first state to admit African Americans without being ordered by the court system. Governor Faubus supported segregation and because he was worried about re-election, used the issue to get the white community behind him. In September 1957, Faubus ordered the National Guard to turn away nine African-American students known as the “Little Rock Nine” who were going to attempt to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School according to Blossom’s desegregation plan. A federal judge ordered Faubus to admit the students. NAACP called eight of the students and made arrangements to drive them to school. Elizabeth Eckford, the ninth student could not be reached. Elizabeth set out for Central High on foot but faced a lot of abuse. There was a disturbance, some violence and some black people were beaten up, all captured on film.
The Little Rock incident forced President Eisenhower to act and he placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal control and ordered the United States Army to surround the school, allowing the students to be escorted into the school. They were kept there for a year and in the picture you can see them being escorted in. At the end of the school year, Faubus closed Central High so that integration could not continue, so some see this attempt as a failure. By 1960 only 3% of the student population of the re-opened school were black, so again, the issue seemed to have been won by the racists. Membership of the KKK went up, and the Governor became a hero. Four of the black studentâ€™s parentsâ€™ also lost their jobs because of the negative reaction. However, the nine went on to have successful careers and the issue, highly public on national TV, did a lot to publicise the growing Civil Rights Movement.