Stories

Remembering the Little Rock Nine

On Sept. 26, 1957, the 101st Airborne deploys at Central High School in Little Rock after President Eisenhower orders the Army to help enforce integration. Photo: AP

On Sept. 25, 1957 — Sixty years ago today — two days after a large, white mob turned violent outside Little Rock Central High School, nine black teenagers returned with federal troops, AP recalls.

Go deeper: Historical stories and photos, and video interviews with people who lived through the era.

  • "The troops, armed with bayonets, were there on the orders of President Dwight Eisenhower, who was displeased with the riots that had broken out Monday morning after the teens, six girls and three boys, attempted to attend classes."
  • "The local police could not control the angry mob so the nine teenagers slipped out the back door of the school. Eisenhower ordered the troops there the following day and they were in position by Wednesday morning."
  • "[T]he Little Rock Nine became a symbol of heroism in the throes of racial progress."
  • The lead that day by AP reporter Relman Morin: "Hardened paratroopers, in battle dress and with bayonets at the ready, brought nine Negro students quietly into Central High School Wednesday in a new climax to the hate-filled struggle over integration in Little Rock."

Why it matters ... Segregation lingers: "Six decades later, the sacrifice of those black students stands as a symbol of the turbulence of the era, but also as a testament to an intractable problem: Though legal segregation has long ended, few white and minority students share a classroom today."

Our thought bubble: Just 60 years! This astonishing scene was in the lifetime of so many people we know.