President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne division troops under the federal command to protect the Little Rock Nine because Governor Faubus was against the idea of allowing nine African American children to enter an all-white school. The Brown v. Board of Education decision helped public schools to be desegregated including Central High School.
After Brown v. Board of Education, the racism and discrimination African Americans encountered in education was on display through the need for Eisenhower to call in the National Guard, the exchange between angry whites and Elizabeth Eckford, and the use of the federal government to enforce the court decision. Governor Faubus did not like the idea of the nine attending Central High School he sees it as a threat to the white community. He took matters into his own hands and decide to station national guards in front of the school and deny any of the nine from entering. Troops from the Arkansas National Guard, ordered to “preserve the peace” by the state’s segregationist governor, Orval Faubus, blocked the students’ path with rifles and bayonets” (Right of Passage). Faubus wants to keep public schools segregated and to “preserve the peace” at Central High by keeping the nine from entering the school.
It is ironic how he wants to keep the peace, however he has the National Guard stationed in front of the school with rifles and bayonets to show authority and the power he has to stop the nine from entering the school and denying their right to an equal education as the white children. Eisenhower’s action marked the first time an American President had used Executive power to enforce the rights of African Americans since the end of reconstruction” (The Little Rock Battle for School Integration). The federal government made a difference in society based off of President Eisenhower’s decision. The effect of Eisenhower decisions was the first step to desegregating public schools and allowing the African Americans into Central High. “Our personal opinions have no bearing on the matter of enforcement” (Free at Last).
President Eisenhower states that no matter the opinion of an individual it should have not affected what happens to the nine. He had a conflict with himself and his decision that he could either help or destroy the lives of the nine students. The white community did not accept the nine African Americans going to school with their children at Central High School, which caused violent protest and riots. Actions and behaviors that the whites have displayed towards the nine created an unfair opportunity for an equal education. The nine students arrived at Central High School looking forward to a successful academic year” (Little rock crisis, 1957). These kids were finally going to experience what it was going to feel like going to an all-white school and getting a better education, however white students and parents intervened with this transaction.
It was hard for the nine to focus when foul language, racial slurs and abuse was suppressing them to give up and not to continue going to school at Central High. During that year, one member of the nine was splashed in the eyes with acid, and another was cut with broken glass left on the floor of shower stalls” (Right of Passage). This illustrates the cruelty and brutality that these young teenagers faced day-to-day at Central High by the same age group of white young boys and girls who were surrounded by prejudice people in the community which led them to act out like that. “The student’s did enter Central High and were protected somewhat, but they were subject of persecution” (Galiano).
These nine students were given a chance to get an equal education as the whites, however; they need protection in order to be alive to receive the education they deserved. The nine experienced unfair treatment, while attending Central High. All nine students did not stop attending Central High regardless of the racial and discrimination that went on in the school because they were trying to get an education in order to become successful. “We kids did it mainly because we didn’t know any better, but our parents were willing to put their careers, and their homes on the line” (Galiano).
This is a quote from Ernest Green one out of the nine to graduate from Central High. They attended the school seeking for something better on the other hand the nine did not know the dangers that came with it especially when it harmed their families. “It is an image of the bitter struggle for racial equality. It captured a moment that helped set the nation on a better path, a moment that almost ruined a single life” (The Hardest Lesson). Elizabeth Eckford talks about her experience attending Central High and how it changed the perspective of the nation and dehumanizing an individual who has good intentions.
Fighting for racial equality was a difficult matter to overcome, yet it has the nation’s attention on what should be rightfully done according to the actions and behaviors that the whites had displayed. It almost ruined her and the others. “I am just a footnote. The ‘Little Rock Nine’, we are a footnote. I think that’s our proper place in history” (The Hardest Lesson). She expresses her opinion of what she is and how she sees Little Rock Nine’s place in history. She thinks that’s their proper place in history, however, she is wrong!
As soon as the nine entered the school it sparked conflict among the whites and blacks causing President Eisenhower to get involved and creating a somewhat better environment for these children. The racial exchange between the angry whites and Elizabeth Eckford was a call to action for help and security. President Eisenhower takes the initiative to involve the federal government to take action and send the 101st Airborne troops to Central High as a form of protection for the nine.
He then issued the “Executive Order 10730, the president placed the Arkansas National Guard under Federal control and sent 1,000 United States Army paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division to assist them in restoring order in Little Rock” (Executive order 10730: Desegregating). With the Executive Order intact the nine is placed under a guard’s protection. There was still abuse coming from the students at the nine walked through the halls and sat in class.
Since the National Guard is placed under the Federal’s control, then they serve a purpose to the nine and in society. “We felt the country was becoming more just and that the federal government was on our side” (Right of Passage). The act of the federal government was significant because it displayed hope among the nine and African Americans. They believed that the country was coming together and realizing that things need to be changed in society and that started with the decision of President Eisenhower.
The federal government was an important factor in the situation of the Little Rock Nine Crisis because of what authority they enforced in order to maintain a social stability for the nine African American students. It also created a safer environment for the African Americans especially if they didn’t have anyone guarding them, they would be dead in a quick second because of the hatred that ran through the lives of the white students and community. “The federal government was using its ultimate power to compel equal treatment of the Negro in the South” (Lewis).
The federal government used their power to the best of their ability to protect and bring freedom to the African Americans in the South. Even though there was disagreements with the decision tagged was made the federal government enforced their power in order for the nine to be protected and for them to get an equal education. It has been “Forty years after its nine students broke the color line, the district and it’s two-whiter-neighbors remain under one of the still-standing federal desegregation orders, a legacy of administrations that built schools to serve white pocket communities” (Right of Passage).
As the years passed by the nine has impact on society and the nation by breaking that racial barrier when entering Central High. It changed the school system for the better with the help of the federal government by supporting President Eisenhower’s decision. However, there was still the whites and district who disagreed with desegregating public schools, Central High, and were put under the federal order to comply.
These were schools that were meant to only serve whites but everything changed once the nine African Americans volunteered to attend Central High for a better and more efficient education. As a result, the Little Rock Nine impacted public school systems and the nation for their courageous act of attending Central High and marinating a somewhat positive attitude in order to get a free and equal education as everybody else. With the help of President Eisenhower’s decision of commanding the federal government to attend and protect the nine African American students.
As these nine young African American individuals entered Central High with high expectations sooner came to realize that their encounter of receiving an education would be brutal. The racial exchanges between the black and whites display the hatred for one another however, over the years some of the whites realized what they had done was wrong and shameful and decide to apologize for their mistakes. Elizabeth Eckford and her experience of being denied and abuse is a living testimony of how the white community changed over time as the years progressed.