Little Rock: Race and Resistance at Central High School

By Karen Anderson | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Not Here, Not Now, Not Us

Little Rock did not bring on disaster. Disaster was deliber-
ately thrust upon a majority of progressive and law-abiding
citizens by extremists and outsiders seeking to serve their
own ends.

—Little Rock School Superintendent Virgil Blossom1

Well, Little Rock, we believe, was selected by those who were
pushing for integration as a city to be made an example of,
and all the forces of government and the forces of liberalism
and all the forces of integration were sent to Little Rock to
make this the battleground and fight it out, fight the issue
out and settle it here, so as to place other school districts in
the state and in the South in an indefensible position.
—Rev. Wesley Pruden2

On the morning of September 4, 1957, 16-year-old Elizabeth Eckford awoke early, so keyed up about her first day at Little Rock's Central High School that she could hardly wait to be up. As she ironed the black and white dress she had made for the occasion, her brother turned on the television. A local newscast related that large crowds were gathering at the previously all-white school to prevent the entry of Elizabeth and eight other African American students scheduled to start school that day. Her mother, anxious about her daughter's safety, yelled from the kitchen for them to “Turn that TV off !” Her father paced throughout the house, unable to calm his fears. Before Elizabeth left for school, her mother summoned the family to the living room for a prayer.3

As she walked the block from the bus to her new school, Elizabeth was unaware of crucial decisions made by others. Because the Eckfords did not have a phone, state NAACP leader Daisy Bates had intended to send

-1-

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