In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared all laws establishing segrated schools unconstitutional. That meant African-American students could legally attend all-white schools. By 1957, the NAACP registered a group of nine black students to attend Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. The school board agreed to comply with the 1954 ruling and approved a plan for gradual integration that would start that school year.
On September 4, that group of students, later nicknamed the "Little Rock 9," attempted to enter Central High on the first day of school, but a crowd of angry students and hundreds of National Guardsmen blocked them from entering. The incident grabbed national attention - and the attention of President Eisenhower. As a result, the nine students attended the school under federal protection, opening the door for black students across the country. In today's Gotta Watch, we're featuring highlights from that historic day and reaction from the Little Rock 9 as they look back on their experiences three decades later.
A day that changed history – Take a look at this historical footage from the very day the so-called Little Rock 9 were blocked from entering their school.
'It had to be done' – Thirty years after being blocked from entering Little Rock Central High School, Gloria Ray Karlmark speaks to a reporter ahead of her first visit to the school since that infamous day.
A step towards equality – The Little Rock 9 were welcomed back to Little Rock Central High 30 years later.