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. gung hoe

    Oh ya ruffie but the blacks think not all of them but think they should get reparations Now if the the people were still alive from the cival war then
    And only then would iwould not sign off on any reparations for anybody

    September 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    Reparations are a completely different animal.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    Hey are ya. Enjoying the long weekend?

    September 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    Good story CNN. Except the drugs and Iran/contra arms were smuggled out of the airport in Mena, AK...not Little Rock. One of the two eyewitnesses that came forward with proof than then gov. William Jefferson Clinton was in on the arms for hostages' scam did drive-thru LittleRock, AK. But he was murdered, and so was the other eye-witness.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KH

    What does Section 8, scams, or drugs have to do with this article? Nothing at all. Some of these comments are irrelevant and ridiculous.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. freedom44

    Powerful video. We are still far from abolishing all forms of racism in this country though. As a Christian minority who lived among Muslims in a Muslim country I would like to say to all the bigots out there, we never had to sit in a back of the bus or studied in separate schools. Before you preach tolerance go practice it yourselves. Remember, I'm talking to the bigots only.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    Hey, raven baby!
    Yes, I am.
    Got my whole family home and together!
    It's chaotic, but I can't think of a better (or more hilarious!) bunch of peeps to hang with.

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


    Thought-provoking post.
    Thanks for saying it.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. raven

    banasy GOT CHA! It took 4 months but I finally got ya. That's not raven. This calls for a celebration. I'm taking the family out to McDonalds!

    September 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    @KH...i guess you could care-less about Bill Clinton, the man whose true past (CIA operative. You have read todays article on the CIA helping Gadhafi these past few years, haven't you?) has been replaced with a womanizing putz who prefers fat chicks over his own wife. What? You thought the gov. could keep-secret things that they righhteously should and have kept secret...but not Clinton's staining the oval office with his own semen?) Once America is completely broke and totally dominated, Bill Clinton will be the leader of the new "democratic world", for his reputation is acceptabe to most. Why did you think that US TROOPS have been fighting for democracy all these years? God isn't a democrat nor an republican, so they weren't fighting for God&Country. They were and are fighting for a world democracy, to led by King William. (Clinton)

    September 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©


    I knew that.
    No, I really didn't.
    Ya got me!

    September 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    ...awaiting banasy and raven to reply.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    I like cocoa. I just wish that the marshmallows would last longer.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. raven

    I can't speak for banasy but yes...I like cocoa. I too wish the marshmallow would last longer Philip.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy

    I like the white marsmallows Philip. They make my cocoa taste soooooo good.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
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