Forums, concerts, exhibitions and other events will be held this fall to mark the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School.Reflections of Progress” is the slogan for commemorative activities.
On September 25th, 1957, troops from the 101st Airborne Division escorted nine black students into the once all-white school. That followed after an angry white mob and Governor Orval Faubus’ National Guard preventing the students from attending class, nearly three years after Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision.
The eight living members of the Little Rock Nine are expected to attend a commemoration event on September 25th at the National Historic site’s auditorium. The school will host a sculpture dedication on September 24th. Over the past several months, Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore has led the steering committee organizing the events.
“The city of Little Rock is excited about hosting this important anniversary. Not only must we commemorate our past, but we must also talk about how we move forward as a city and as a community,” Moore said.
Organizers, who include administrators with the city of Little Rock, the Little Rock School District and the National Park Service, have also tied in several scheduled jazz concerts and forums throughout the rest of the year. Beginning August 8, the Arkansas Arts Center will exhibit work by photographer Will Counts, who snapped several iconic shots during the integration crisis. Central High Principal Nancy Rousseau said she hopes the message emanating from the 60th anniversary events will reflect progress.
“In contrast to 1957, the students at Central who come here, with whatever level of foundation they do or do not have—we have a program for every single student,” Rousseau said.
A listing of events can be found at centralhigh60th.org.