First State Takeover of Little Rock School

Jan 29, 2015

In 1954, when the United States Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision was handed down, Orval Faubus was running against incumbent Francis Cherry for governor. Inevitably, the question of school desegregation arose on the campaign trail. Faubus insisted that school policy was best handled at a “local level” with local communities empowered to determine their own course of action. After winning the election, and then the next in 1956, against president of the Arkansas Association of White Citizens Councils, Jim Johnson, Faubus continued to tow the local control line. Then, in September 1957, with school desegregation imminent at Little Rock’s Central High School, Faubus called out the National Guard. The next morning, state soldiers blocked the entry of black students. It became, in effect, the first state takeover of a Little Rock school.