copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
It has been fifty years since America sought to integrate its schools. It was September 25, 1957. The Little Rock Nine, a group of young Black pupils, crossed the threshold into history. Three years earlier, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled educational institutions could no longer remain separate and unequal. Unity in our schools was sanctioned in 1954. Brown versus Board of Education was the catalyst for change. However, even after the judgment was handed down, in actuality, few Districts altered enrollment. Assimilation was slow and frequently forced.
Two score and ten years ago, a reluctant locality was required to register young learners. Central High classrooms in Little Rock, Arkansas would receive students from the "wrong side of the tracks." The climate was volatile. The community was up in arms. The Governor fought for what he thought right, separation of the races.
Nevertheless, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed school populations would be mixed. One thousand soldiers from the 327th Airborne Battle Group of the 101st Airborne Division were deployed to Little Rock from their base in Kentucky. The troops would accompany young Black students as they entered the High School campus. The guards would stay with the scholars during the day to ensure their safety. The Eisenhower Administration was determined to end discrimination. However, the public was not. Perhaps, a prejudiced populace was more successful than principled people were. We did not eradicate the injustice of bigotry. Racism lives large today.
As we commemorate this historic occasion, Americans face a quandary. The doctrine we advocate is contrary to what we adopt. The current Supreme Court, recently ruled in favor of re-segregation. Educational facilities in local neighborhoods returned to a policy of separatism prior to the judgment handed down only months ago. The 'Robert's rule' reinforced what was allowed to occur in the last decade or more.
Yet, half a century later, one of the nine speaks with hope.
''You can overcome adversity if you know you are doing the right thing,'' said Carlotta Walls Lanier, one of the nine.
Four-thousand five hundred  people joined her. On the anniversary of the entrance into Central High School, fifty two  percent of the school is Black. One might delude them selves to think this is inspiring; yet, it is not.
Return to a Showdown at Little Rock
By Felicia R. Lee
The New York Times
September 25, 2007
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When Minnijean Brown Trickey and eight other black teenagers desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., 50 years ago on Sept. 25, they were escorted by 1,200 soldiers through spitting and jeering white crowds. Those images were beamed worldwide through the new medium of television, and the public response helped propel a civil rights movement energized by the 1954 Supreme Court ruling against school segregation.
On a recent visit to Central High, Ms. Trickey spoke to a self-segregated classroom: whites on one side, blacks on the other. An African-American student apparently dozed as she spoke. Students and teachers alike spoke blithely or painfully of the low educational aspirations and achievements of too many black students. Central, many said, is now two schools in one: a poor, demoralized black majority and a high-achieving, affluent white minority.
Separate and unequal survives. Only the façade varies. Americans are subtle in their manner, more so than they might have been in the past. Nonetheless, ethnic chauvinism, the chill of a cold shoulder, and racial slurs remain. Fifty years have come and gone. The United States is still divided. Hope is but a dream not realized. America, when will we embrace as our founders put forth, "All men are created equal."
Source For Segregation . . .