In this WSB newsfilm clip from September 25, 1957, reporters interview students who have left Little Rock Central High School following the admittance of nine African American students, and United States soldiers surround the school following rioting in the community.
The clip begins with soldiers standing in a line in the middle of the street; behind on the sidewalk, white citizens crowd together. Soldiers are also seen walking behind a hedge or a fence. Next, a reporter interviews a young woman who stands with her back to the camera. The young woman believes most of the furor over the integration by the "Little Rock Nine" has been political; she also believes that United States president Dwight D. Eisenhower was right to send troops to the school to prevent mobs and rioting. She continues that students would be able to handle the situation on their own if parents and the mob would not interfere. She further believes that the situation would never have gotten so bad if it had been left alone from the beginning. At one point, the reporter interrupts the young woman to ask if she will turn around and face the camera. She emphatically refuses, saying, "it won't help me at all."
After this, a reporter interviews another young woman who faces the camera and stands with her hands on her hips. When asked if she will return to Central High School, the young woman asserts that she will not return to the school because she will not attend classes with African Americans (who she refers to using a derogatory racial epithet). When asked about her alternatives, the young woman lists several area schools that are not integrated or suggests that she might attend a private school. Finally, a reporter interviews a young man who has also left Central High School. The young man leaves the decision of his return to the school up to his parents. The clip ends with more soldiers passing by in full gear.
The Little Rock school district decided to integrate its schools in 1957. Arkansas governor Orval Faubus opposed the integration plan and sent Arkansas National Guard troops to prevent the admittance of African American students to Little Rock Central High School on September 4, 1957. A federal judge ordered the removal of the national guard and the entry of the black students. After the students' entrance on September 23, white Little Rock citizens rioted, and the students were removed after three hours at the school. United States president Dwight D. Eisenhower responded by federalizing the national guard and ordering soldiers to the area to ensure the safe attendance of the African American students. About fifty white students left the school in protest when the African Americans entered on September 24. After a year of integration, Little Rock closed its public schools to avoid further integration.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.