July 20 - by Madison
Today we went to Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. When we got here I learned that the historical events took place when there were separate schools for colored and white people. Central High was an all-white school. President Eisenhower didn't like the idea of having different schools for the colored and white, so he passed a law that said that the schools have to be integrated with both white and black students. Almost all states agreed with that, but Arkansas didn’t. The Governor said Eisenhower never said when this had to be completed, so they decided to wait as long as they possibly could. Eisenhower was not happy about this, so he passed a new law that said they had to do it as soon as possible. In Little Rock, decided to send a letter to all the students at Dunbar High School (the colored school), asking if they wanted to attend Central High School, and 70 out of 500 students said yes. All 70 students had to go to an interview with the school board, and the board checked their grades, their health condition, and their behavior. Only 50 of the 70 students passed the test, but the Board said that the students could only attend classes and they couldn’t join after school activities. Because of this, 10 more students dropped out, and when the other 40 told their parents, many of them also said no. Only 17 remained, and out of the 17, only 10 students were finally chosen to attend Central high school.
The day before the beginning of the school year, the Governor sent the Arkansas National Guard to 'keep the peace’, but that really meant keeping the colored students out of the school. The 10 students were told to stay at home for the first day of school, but attend the 2nd
day. Daisy Bates, the NCPPA president called all of the families to meet at her house so they could go to school together. One student (Elizabeth Eckford) didn’t get the phone call because her family didn’t have a phone, and Daisy meant to go to get Elizabeth at her house, but forgot in the morning. Elizabeth got on the bus the next morning and went to the school. There she met a mob of people who were threatening to kill her before she got into the school. She was expecting to see some of the other 10, but didn’t see any, so she asked the National Guard if she could get into the school, but they didn’t let her, so she had no choice but to sit at a bus stop while white students harassed her waiting for the bus. This was only the beginning of the school year, and the harassment continued with dunking heads in the toilet, locking people in the stall and throwing flaming pieces of paper over the stall, kicking and punching, name calling, and many more bad things. One day Minnijean Brown, one of the black students, couldn’t hold her anger in any more, so she called a group of girls teasing her white trash. She got expelled and then the other 8 received notes saying ‘1 down….. 8 to go’. All of the students graduated a high school, but only 3 of them graduated from Central High. After we learned the history, we went on a tour around the actual school. Right as we were going to leave we saw one of the 9 students, Minnijean Brown! We just happened to be there on a day when she was also visiting for another event. This was really exciting because the 9 students were much braver then I would have ever been. I got to shake her hand, get her signature, and a picture.
After we talked to her we went on the tour and learned a couple of more facts about the riot. Then we had to leave to go to the airport and picked up my mom. I had a fun day learning about the riot that the 9 students went through.