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It was May 17, 1954, when the Supreme Court issued its decision ruling the segregation of public schools to be unconstitutional. The case, Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, has maintained its significance in American history due to the way it brought about cultural change in the south. Before then, many southern states were dominated by white democratic state legislatures and had mandated Jim Crow laws which forced African American and white children to be enrolled at separate schools.

There was an uproar after the court ruling, which led many states to resist the push for integration. A second court decision was required, referred to as Brown II, instructing public schools to integrate “with all deliberate speed”. Arkansas state government had been one of the many states acting in contrast to what was being directed by the federal government. However, in response to the court actions and added pressure from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Arkansas school districts began devising plans to integrate their education systems (Hall 2008, 108).3 Among the first of the high schools was Little Rock Central, where, in 1957, nine courageous African American students registered for class at the all-white school. What these students experienced serves to illustrate for America the struggle this southern state had with the ongoing cultural shift.


This paper was presented as part of the History Research Seminar (HIST 4603) taught by Dr. Myra Houser.



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