Gotta Watch: Story behind Little Rock 9
September 4th, 2011
01:20 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Story behind Little Rock 9

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.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Civil Rights • Courts • Education • Gotta Watch • Hate crime • History • Human rights • Justice • U.S.
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. RUFFNUTT© ( elf slayer & 15th lvl warrior )

    finally a new story...

    September 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RUFFNUTT© ( elf slayer & 15th lvl warrior )

    they should do a real story like -> "Little Rock 9," where are they now...

    September 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nancy

    I think I saw them the other day at Walmart. Walmart is good. They hve almost everything.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarmenSo

      Even dictionaries

      September 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    I agree, Ruffie©.
    A story like that would be very interesting...

    September 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jordan scene©

    For some reason this makes me think of that one particular scene from Forest Gump... Great movie.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. raven

    I like cocoa. I'm pretty. I like people. Joey Isotta-Fraschini and banasy are my best friends. I love them both with all my heart.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Lewis

    It is worth reminding ourselves, mainly of the courage of the black people who broke the blockade, but also
    that the State Governor who brought in the National Guard was a Democrat, and that the President who ordered
    in the US Army (101st Airborne, I believe, one of the best units) was Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican.
    Eisenhower is the unmentioned figure in so many of these commemorations. The Little Rock Nine showed great guts and
    determination but they weren't bulletproof; they needed the guns of the US Army behind them.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Interesting, isn't it, that because President Eisenhower's support for racial equality (like Governor Clovis' and Governor Wallace's opposition to it) doesn't fit the story some would like to present regarding the role of the Republican Party in race relations, that part is never discussed. As Billy Joel sang, "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

      September 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobcat2u

    Maybe I'm showing ignorance here, but why do the news people feel the need to reopen stories like this. This created a literal war mentality between the races back them and now just reminds us what it was truly like back then. Just when we seem to be making SOME progress on issues like this, they want to reopen wounds. We need to learn to let sleeping dogs lie.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RUFFNUTT© ( elf slayer & 15th lvl warrior )

    MY NEIGHBOORhood used to be nice.. then they started in with the section 8 housing.. the schools now are uncredited and dangerous.. people get murdered and robbed constantly, home invasions are common, all the business are closed, and there is atleaset 3 drug houses on every block.. thanks emanual cleaver!!! your the best...
    what i think is funny is all the section 8 places i deliver to , there is always a guy living there selling drugs or running some sorta scam...

    September 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Hamilton

      All of those changes happened since Rahm Emanuel has been mayor (4 months)?

      September 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT© ( elf slayer & 15th lvl warrior )

      it's been happening for the last 20 years plus.. it's just keeps getting worse and worse tho.. i've already had a couple friends murdered over some loser that didn't want to work and want to rip of his truck.. rip trent crane...

      September 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gung hoe

    Ya know what im with ya bobcat2u Then the black people feel that we owe them a living NOT And hello to me friends

    September 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RUFFNUTT© ( elf slayer & 15th lvl warrior )

    @gung hoe... i dont think it's just black people.. there's tons of others too that think they should live off the goverment for a free ride..

    September 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gung hoe


    September 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RUFFNUTT© ( elf slayer & 15th lvl warrior )

    it makes me mad when i see people ripping off the goverment getting paid for staying home and i have to work and pay taxes...
    like one guy i know collects disabbilty for being bi-polar and works a cash job for 10$ an hour..

    September 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Fabian Williams


    September 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT© ( elf slayer & 15th lvl warrior )

      dont make me get out "elf thummper 2" .... just cause it's +3 vs elves doesn't mean it wont work on humans also..

      September 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    Good quote from a song, but wasn't that Paul Simon singing in Simon and Garfunkle's "The Boxer"?

    September 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
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