The ABCs of Civil Rights

A sculpture of nine African-American teens, schoolbooks in hand, sits on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capital in Little Rock, less than a mile and a-half from Central High School, the site of an historic Civil Rights confrontation.

When, in 1957, the nine students attempted to enroll in the all-white school, it set off a battle that pitted Blacks against Whites, the rule of law against the rule of mobs, and the state against the federal government.

2AR.CentrlHighSchl-LR.WP2Today, thanks to their bravery, the 2,500 students who attend Little Rock Central High School are a diverse group — 55% Black, 33% White, 7% Asian and 4% Hispanic. Nearly 70% take Advanced Placement courses.

In recognition of its role in the nation’s struggle to integrate public schools, Little Rock Central High School, which was dubbed “America’s Most Beautiful High School” when it was built in 1927, has been declared a National Historic Site.

A nearby Visitor Center does an excellent job of recounting the story of the students, the school and the crisis, and tours of the school itself are available by appointment. www.nps.gov/chsc

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