Sixty years ago today, the Little Rock Nine began attending an all-white public high school as part of integration efforts after Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka. The city of Little Rock went forward with voluntary desegregation, against the wishes of the racist governor, Orval Faubus.
These nine children faced harassment and threats of violence simply because they were attending school with white children. One of the oft-cited “concerns” of white parents was that the races might mix at school dances. Faubus called out the state’s National Guard to support the segregationist mobs outside the school. The Guard blockaded Central High and left the nine children to the mercies of the mob.
Eventually, Eisenhower was forced to send in federal troops to enforce federal desegregation laws, marking the first time since the Civil War that federal troops were deployed on American soil.
Enormous strides toward racial justice and equality were made throughout the 60’s but full equality has never been realized. On this anniversary of the Little Rock Nine, let us reflect on how far we still need to go as a nation to reach true equity. Let us think about the high incarceration rate of black men for minor crimes compared to white men for major crimes. Let us think about the rate at which African Americans are killed by police acting as judge and executioner. Let us think about the continuing disparity between schools in affluent mainly white communities and those in poorer mainly black communities.
We have so far to go, and we’re hampered by people who refuse to admit there’s even a problem. Today, please reflect, consider, and act to help move our country forward.