Sunday, September 25, 2016
September 25, 1957 - The U.S. Army's 101st Airborne forcibly integrates Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of all American public schools in "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka" in 1954. By by 1956, just 723 of the 10,000 public school districts across the South had integrated.
The Little Rock school board adopted desegregation as its policy five days after "Brown v. Board". In May 1955, the district approved plan by Superintendent Dr. Virgil Blossom to gradually desegregate all public schools in the city. Central High School would desegregate first, with the admission of a few black students. Desegregation would then slowly spread into the lower grades. This plan was challenged in state court, but in February 1956 Judge John E. Miller of the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas ordered the Little Rock school district to integrate.
Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus -- who had slid further and further into the segregationist position over his previous two terms -- was determined to intervene in Little Rock and prevent integration. Faubus was worried about federal intervention, however. The week of August 20, he called Warren Olney III, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. Olney's assistant, Arthur B. Caldwell, told Faubus that the federal government was not a party to the Little Rock integration lawsuits and had no plans to join it. Faubus took Caldwell's comments to mean that the federal government would not take action against him...
Behind the scenes, Faubus now told white parents to form an all-white organization to stop the Blossom Plan. White parents in Little Rock duly formed the Mother's League of Central High School. This organization (which worked hand-in-glove with the Capital Citizens' Council, a white-supremacist group) held its first public meeting on August 27, 1957, and voted to seek an injunction preventing implementation of the Blossom Plan. The plea was heard by Judge Murray O. Reed of the State Chancery Court. Although local school officials and witnesses from the NAACP testified that no violence was expected, Gov. Faubus himself made a surprise appearance. Faubus told the court that vast numbers of guns had been sold in Little Rock in the past few days, and that both white and black students had been found carrying handguns. Reed issued the injunction preventing integration on August 29.
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School was to open on September 3. The Little Rock school board and the NAACP appealed the state court ruling to the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Judge Ronald N. Davies had been confirmed to the District Court for the District of North Dakota in June 1955. But on August 22, 1957, Judge Archibald K. Gardner of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit temporarily assigned Judge Davies to the Eastern District of Arkansas, where no judge had been sitting for several months and where legal cases were backed up for months.
On August 30, Judge Davies overturned the state court ruling, and ordered desegregation of Central High School to proceed forthwith. The local NAACP worked with African American parents to find students to integrate the high school on September 3.
Faubus was determined to make Little Rock into something. At 9:00 PM on September 2, he mobilized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered it to surround Little Rock Central High School on September 3 and prevent the entrance of any African American students. Faubus went live on television at 10:15 PM to explain his decision. He declared that police and the National Guard would not be able to control the violence if black students entered the high school. Therefore, the National Guard was going to bar those students.
The NAACP was outraged, and complained to Judge Davies. On the afternoon of September 3, Davies issued a second order demanding the immediate integration of Central High School. He said he must take Faubus at his word, that the National Guard had not been there to prevent admittance of black students.
Meanwhile, President Dwight D. Eisenhower refused to act. Eisenhower had long opposed any attempt to use federal marshals or troops to enforce desegregation. Instead, Eisenhower appealed to the public to "do the right thing" and abandon racism. It was either a naïve or immoral position to take.
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The NAACP realized that integration wasn't going to happen, and called the 12 students who'd volunteered, telling them to stay home. But student Elizabeth Eckford had no telephone in her home. NAACP staff, distracted by events, forgot to go to her home on Tuesday morning and tell her to stay away. Eckford approached the school just before 9 AM, and attempted to enter after a National Guardsman motioned for her to approach. She passed through the crowd without incident, but then discovered that the 270 National Guardsmen were determined to bar her. The crowd closed behind her. Eckford was forced to retreat through the jeering, mocking, spitting mob of 500 white youth and adults. A photograph of white girl Hazel Bryan screaming racial epithets at Eckford made national headlines, and became an iconic image of the civil rights movement. Eckford tried to enter a store to call a taxi, but was barred. She sat down to wait for a bus. Terrence Roberts, another black student, offered to escort her to his home nearby. But Eckford feared her mother would not approve, and that the mob would follow. The crowd threatened to lynch her. When a Jewish reporter for the "New York Times" attempted to comfort Eckford, the crowd threatened to castrate him and he left. Only later did a white housewife sit with her, challenging bullies, and help her onto a city bus. (She got off the bus a few blocks later, leaving Eckford alone as she rode home). The crowd dispersed only when rumors that other black students were trying to enter the school drew them away.
On September 4, nine black students attempted to enter Central High School but once more the National Guard turned them away. When Davies learned of the interference with his order, he immediately met with Assistant U.S. Attorney Osro Cobb and U.S. Marshal R. Beal Kidd, discussing the situation and asking them to study the case. When Faubus heard of the court meeting, he sent a telegram to Eisenhower decrying the "federal interference" in his state, and declaring he would not work with federal agents. Eisenhower responded by ordering Defense Department officials to study if federally-supplied weapons and uniforms were being misused by Arkansas to defy the legal order of the court.
The next day, the school district asked Judge Davies to dissolve his order demanding immediate desegregation. By now, the mob in front of the school had swelled to 500 white adults and more than 1,000 white youths (most of them Central High students). During the day, the National Guard threatened to arrest any reporter caught in the area. Major General Sherman T. Clinger, commander of the National Guard, declared that the mere presence of reporters was incitement to riot. Members of the mob threatened to attack or kill any reporter than "printed lies". That afternoon, Eisenhower sent a telegram to Faubus declaring that he would "enforce the law", although he did not specify what that meant. That night, racists burned a cross on the lawn of Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Mann, who opposed the presence of the National Guard.
The mob shrank to just 100 people on Friday, September 6. Faubus replied to Eisenhower's telegram, declaring he was upholding the Constitution and maintaining the peace.
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On Saturday, September 7, Judge Davis held a 15-minute hearing on the delay requested by the school board. His decision, issued 45 minutes later, denied the request and ordered integration to occur on Monday morning. That afternoon, Eisenhower and his advisors met to discuss the situation. Federal law gave the president the power to enforce a court injunction or contempt-of-court proceeding. The president could use Army troops, U.S. Marshals, create a "posse comitatus" (deputize a large body of local citizens), or federalize the Arkansas National Guard. None of these options were politically palatable, and all required that Judge Davies find Faubus in contempt. Cobb and Kidd had initiated an FBI investigation into any contempt or obstruction of justice activities by Faubus, but that investigation was a long way from conclusion. Eisenhower decided to do nothing. Although Eisenhower had just forced the Civil Rights Act through a reluctant Congress in 1957 (he would sign it into law on September 9, the last possible day to do so), his administration seemed oblivious to the backlash it would create or the need to enforce both the new Act and "Brown v. Board". That evening, Faubus wired Eisenhower and offered to have his personal attorney, Bill Smith, meet with Justice officials to work out a resolution to the crisis. Eisenhower immediately responded with enthusiasm.
Smith met with DOJ officials all day on September 8 and September 9. The negotiations went nowhere. At one point, Faubus suggested closing all Arkansas schools until the Supreme Court had invalidated every single one of Arkansas' segregation laws. At another point, DOJ officials appeared to agree to a plan offered by Smith that black students agree not to enroll at Central High for the time being -– only to back off once they realized that this meant keeping blacks out of white schools until the Supreme Court had ruled on every single appeal by the state.
That night, Rep. Brooks Hays (D-Little Rock) met with Faubus to discuss the situation in Little Rock. Hays simply could not understand Faubus' claim about violence, when everything in Little Rock had been going so smoothly. Faubus claimed that his internal polls showed the people of Arkansas approving of his actions overwhelmingly. It was a lie: The polls showed that most people in the state wanted the troops removed and for integration to proceed smoothly. Hays asked Faubus if he'd meet privately with Eisenhower. Faubus agreed.
On Sunday, September 8, Mayor Mann announced that he had considered using 500 Little Rock police officers to disperse the mob which the National Guard was allowing to form in front of the high school every day. But he concluded his force was too small to contain the violence, and he publically called on Eisenhower to send federalize the Arkansas National Guard to restore order. That evening, Faubus appeared on the nationwide ABC-TV program "Open Hearing" and repeated his claim that "caravans" of racists and troublemakers were descending on Little Rock and ready to riot. He demanded that the federal government retreat from its position of immediate integration, and claimed that federalizing his state militia would solve nothing.
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On Monday, September 9, Faubus ordered the number of troops at Central High doubled to more than 200 after the number had fallen to 15 during the weekend. Early in the afternoon, the FBI gave its 400-page report to Judge Davies. At 4:45 PM that same day, Judge Davies asked U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Jr. to seek an indictment against Governor Faubus, Maj. Gen. Clinger, and Lt. Col. Marion E. Johnson (head of the unit surrounding at Central High School) for contempt of court. Faubus belittled Davie's order, attacked Mayor Mann, and declared that bloodshed was coming in the streets of Little Rock.
On the evening of September 9, the Justice Department began to move. Donald B. MacGuineas, an expert on subversion and a top trial attorney, flew to Little Rock to worked with Cobb through the night on the indictment. William D. Rogers, Deputy Attorney General, remained on duty in Washington to assist with the indictment. They agreed that Faubus had to be allowed ample time to respond to the indictment, and that a full and lengthy hearing should be afford him in order to not only help defuse the situation in Little Rock but to ensure that Faubus would have no grounds for attacking the legal process.
Faubus was served with a summons on September 10, with the hearing to be held September 20. By this time, the mob had dwindled to only about 100 people, and was mostly quiet. On September 13, just 10 soldiers guarded the high school.
On Wednesday, September 11, Eisenhower and Faubus agreed to meet that Saturday in Rhode Island for two hours. Faubus, Hays, and the governor's executive secretary Arnold Sikes met with the president, his chief of staff Sherman Adams, and Attorney General Brownell at Newport Naval Base (where Eisenhower had his "summer White House"). Faubus felt that Eisenhower was like a general lecturing a subordinate about an embarrassing matter, one that needed a reprimand and straightening out but not a court-martial. But he made no assurance that he'd change his orders to the National Guard. Eisenhower, however, had asked Faubus to order the National Guard to admit the black students and believed that Faubus had agreed. He did not say so in so many words, because he could not exercise the powers of governor while out of the state. But Eisenhower was sure they'd reached an agreement.
Back in Little Rock on September 15, Faubus told Mike Wallace in an interview that he intended to keep the National Guard in front of Central High School. When a shocked Wallace asked why Faubus didn't have troops escort black students to class, Faubus calmly told him that would not have resolved the problem. On September 16, the number of Guard troops had risen to 30, with fewer than a dozen protesters confronting them.
On September 17, J. Edgar Hoover ruled out the use of FBI agents as guards for black students at Little Rock. That same day, the U.S. Attorney in Little Rock issued more than 200 subpoenas to force witnesses to testify against Faubus, Clinger, and Johnson. Meanwhile, Faubus attempted to find a face-saving way out. He asked the NAACP if it would accept a one-year "cooling-off period" before attempting to admit black students to the high school. The organization refused. Faubus then asked for one semester, and then one week, and both times was refused. On September 18, the number of Guard troops fell to 15 again.
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On September 19, Eisenhower told the press how surprised he was that Faubus had not removed the troops. That same day, Faubus filed a motion requesting that Judge Davies recuse himself from the Little Rock case because he had a "personal bias" against both Faubus as an individual and in favor of the black student plaintiffs. Faubus also accused Davies of violating judicial ethics by meeting privately with plaintiffs and advising them on courses of action to take, considering statements not made in court, indicating a preconceived judgment against Faubus, and asserting that Blossom, Cobb, Orso, and others had colluded with Davies. But even as Faubus took defiant legal action, there were signs he was ready to cave in. Faubus advisors signaled that the governor would remove the troops on Monday, September 23, if he lost the September 20th hearing. Mayor Mann had told his police force to be ready for action Monday, and the school district had given the black students their room assignments at Central High School.
The hearing on September 20 was a quiet one. In an initial hearing at 10 AM, Judge Davies considered and then rejected the petition to have himself recused from the case. At 10:30 AM, Davies began the contempt hearing. Attorneys for Faubus argued that the court lacked jurisdiction over a state governor (a classic states' rights claim), but Davies rejected that out of hand. They then argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1957 had repealed a federal law permitting the federal government to intervene in civil rights cases. Davies agreed that the repeal had occurred, but concluded that the intervention had occurred under generic friend-of-the-court and other standard judicial practices. The governor's attorneys then asked to be excused from the case, and Davies granted their request. This left Faubus without a defense before the court. Davies then heard from 12 witnesses (nine of them the black students themselves) who testified that the National Guard had prevented the entry of the students. At the conclusion of the hearing, Davies ruled that Faubus was in contempt, and he ordered the National Guard removed. Faubus complied at 6:25 PM Central time. He then said he would appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. That night, Faubus urged black parents to keep their children out of Central High School.
On Sunday, September 23, Faubus accused Attorney General Brownell of seeking to "crucify" him, agitating the Little Rock situation for political gain, and interfering with a potential private resolution to the crisis. Faubus apparently referred to an incident during the talks in Rhode Island when Eisenhower agreed to a "cooling-off period". Eisenhower then asked Brownell to seek a cooling-off period with Judge Davies. Brownell told the president and Faubus that this was not legally possible; the district court had already issued its ruling, and the only option was to comply or be found in contempt. Eisenhower almost ordered Brownell to do as he said, until Brownell said it was a legal, not a political or policy, issue. Eisenhower remained angry at Brownell for "allowing things to get this far" -– even though the federal government had not intervened in the case until after Davies had three times issued a ruling ordering integration.
On Monday, September 23, Mayor Mann had 75 of his 175 police officers guarding Central High School. They set up barricades to keep the public across the street from the school. Another 50 Arkansas State Troopers were at the city's disposal. Lt. Governor Nathan Gordon (acting governor while Faubus was out of the state attending a governors' meeting in Georgia) activated 150 Arkansas National Guardsmen to assist, but later rescinded the order. As the school day started, a mob of about 200 white adults gathered outside the school. Two African American reporters were assaulted and chased away. Meanwhile, the nine students -- Elizabeth Eckford, Minnijean Brown, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Pattillo, Gloria Ray, Terrance Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Carlotta Walls -– arrived at the rear of the school and quietly entered. About 300 white students left the building when the black students arrived. (Another 150 students stayed out of school.) When the students told the crowd that the school had integrated, groups of eight to ten people began trying to run the barricade and gain access to the school. Twenty-four arrests were made. Soon, more white adults joined the mob, and by 10 AM more than 1,000 whites were in front of the school (most of them out-of-towners), demanding that that black students be forcibly hauled from the school; some demanded they be beaten, while others demanded lynchings. Girls and women in the mob sobbed hysterically, screaming, "The niggers are in our school!" Several white reporters were brutally beaten by the white supremacists. At noon, school and police authorities, worried that they could not contain the mob, whisked the black students out of the building by a rear entrance. Throughout the rest of the day, state and city police patrolled Little Rock and nearby county roads, breaking up caravans and groups of whites.
At 2:55 PM, Eisenhower was informed of the mob attack at Little Rock. He immediately conferred with Brownell, then Cobb and Orso. He conferred again with Brownell and White House press secretary James Hagerty.
At 6:23 PM, Eisenhower signed a cease-and-desist order, which was required under federal law if federal troops were to be used.
At 6:30 PM, Secretary of the Army Wilber Bruckner met with Brownell and other Justice officials for an hour, then met with Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson later that night. Throughout the night, Justice officials worked to identify laws and legal precedents which would bolster their case for federal intervention in Little Rock.
Throughout the night, Little Rock police broke up numerous fights between small groups of blacks and whites, and repeatedly ordered caravans of out-of-town cars (sometimes numbering as many as 50 vehicle) to disperse. At the White House, aides monitored the situation in Little Rock and openly discussed whether federal troops would be needed.
At 5:30 AM on September 24, Mayor Mann called the White House and informed the president's aides that his police force could not maintain order if Central High School were to be integrated. He formally asked President Eisenhower to send in federal troops. But Eisenhower declined for the moment, saying he wanted to see how the situation developed during the day. At 7:20 AM, the Little Rock Police erected barricades again around the high school. Because Mann could not guarantee their safety, the black students were kept out of school. Nevertheless, a mob (which varied in size throughout the day, sometimes just 50 people, sometimes more than 300) gathered in front of the school. Police made nine arrests at the barricades (two of them on weapons charges), and another 45 arrests throughout the city due to racial violence and vandalism. At 8:24 AM, a White House aide told Mann to stand by to send a telegram to Eisenhower formally requesting troops. Eisenhower –- who had already decided during the night to send in troops -– agreed that the situation was out of control at 9:00 AM. Mann sent his telegram at 9:15 AM.
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The U.S. Army had been planning for action in Little Rock since September 3, when Faubus first began to misuse the National Guard. The 112th Counter Intelligence Corps Group began monitoring the situation (mostly by reading news reports), and identifying facilities in the area which might be used by the Army. As the crisis continued, Fourth Army began drawing up contingency plans to federalize the Arkansas National Guard. The assumption was that federal troops would not be needed, but a back-up plan had to be in place. Fourth Army identified the 101st Airborne, based at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, as the most appropriate unit to intervene: It was already on alert as part of normal Cold War military operations, had its own airfield, and was just two hours from Little Rock. Army Chief of Staff General Maxwell D. Taylor ordered riot control training to begin as part of normal readiness procedures. Plans were then drawn up to move 1,000 men, in two units, to Little Rock. The U.S. Air Force was brought in to the planning sessions and asked to be ready to lift the men. Army planners also began to work on the legal aspect of federalization. Two options (a "call" and an "order") were open to them. Army planners decided that the order was more appropriate because, even though it was the more limited option, it was the option generally used for domestic disturbances and natural disasters. The plan also called for the 101st Airborne to be commanded in the field by Major General Edwin A. Walker, commander of the U.S. Military District of Arkansas. Fourth Army would support them administratively and logistically from Fort Chafee, Arkansas, with a ammunition coming from Ft. Campbell. Ft. Chafee would also supply medical evac, if needed.
Fourth Army to Plans were presented to General Taylor on September 10. He made only a single change, simplifying the chain of command so that Walker reported directly to him rather than through three other commands. Taylor also assigned one of his staff to be his personal representative in the field.
Concern about whether the Arkansas National Guard would obey orders was deep. Taylor ordered a survey of the ANG, which found that just 80 percent would comply with a federal order, so long as it was not an order to enforce desegregation. Just 75 percent would obey call-up to enforce a desegregation order, and just 65 percent if told they were to oppose local or state police. This made the use of Army troops much more plausible, and helped shape Eisenhower's decisions on the use of federal troops.
After Judge Davies' ruling on September 20, Gen. Walker presented the plan to Lt. General Clyde D. Eddleman, Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations at the Pentagon, who approved it. Talks with the Air Force from September 20 to 22 led to assignment of the 314th Troop Carrier Wing at Sewart Air Force Base near Nashville, Tennessee, as the airlift unit carrying troops and light vehicles to Little Rock. Troops and planes should be ready to move two hours after an alert, and be on the ground at Little Rock Air Force Base within 11 hours.
On September 22, Gen. Walker met with Gen. Eddleman, who advised him that he should refrain from using Army troops unless ANG soldiers could not be relied on or were insufficient to do the job. Little Rock police were to be permitted to do their regular jobs. That night, Walker flew to Ft. Campbell, where he briefed Maj. Gen. Thomas Sherburne, Jr., commander of the 101st Airborne, on the operation. At this point, Walker ordered Sherburne to leave all African American troops in the 101st Airborne behind, and to use only white soldiers. Sherburne was shocked, but complied. (The black soldiers would not be re-integrated into their units until a month later.) Another 114 black soldiers would join the force, coming from Fourth Army. Only eight would be in the field; the rest would be held in reserve at camp outside Little Rock.
On the evening of September 23, Walker was instructed by the Pentagon to identify those ANG units he would federalize, their number, the kind of personnel, how they would be used, and whether they should be wholly or partly federalized. Walker's plan, submitted the next morning with only minor changes, even though it did not specify how the ANG units were to be used or whether the entire ANG should be federalized and "frozen in place" or just parts of it.
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At 12:22 PM Eastern time on September 24, Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10730 federalizing the entire Arkansas National Guard. The order also delegated authority to the Secretary of Defense to use whatever armed forces of the United States were needed to bring compliance with the cease-and-desist order of September 23. (Wilson delegated his authority to Brucker later that day.) A few minutes later, Gen. Eddleman informed Gen. Sherburne to deploy the 101st Airborne, and to use regular troops first and replace them with ANG troops as soon as feasible and advisable. At 2:25 PM Eastern time, the ANG was ordered to report to duty under the command of Gen. Walker. Which units, if any, would be called into action in Little Rock was left up to Walker. Major General Earle G. Wheeler, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Military Operations, was Taylor's personal representative in the field.
Walker was surprised that Eisenhower had federalize and frozen in place the entire ANG. For a time, there was doubt that Faubus, Gordon, and Clinger would obey the federalization order. Walker was prepared to issue an order directly to the ANG if they failed to do so. Gordon refused to act, waiting until Faubus returned from Georgia. Faubus then refused to act. After hesitating, Clinger finally issued the order by telephone, radio, and television (with formal orders arriving on September 25). Within 24 hours, 1,240 out of 1,586 ANG soldiers had reported to Camp Robinson (an ANG training facility on the northern outskirts of Little Rock).
At 3:15 PM Central time, nine hours and 49 minutes after the alert, the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 327th Infantry, arrived at Little Rock Air Force Base. Walker assigned a part of his Army force to Camp Robinson, the rest of Little Rock University Reserve Armory. At 6:40 PM, the first contingent of soldiers began to secure Central High School, and had thrown up a cordon within 15 minutes. Blossom and Mann learned of the arrival of Army troops only at dusk, as they entered the city of Little Rock. Blossom begged for the Army to delay another day, but Walker informed him that the president wanted integration to proceed the next morning. That night, four specialists from Ft. Meyer, Virginia, arrived at Little Rock Air Force Based with a consignment of tear and vomit gas in the form of a cloud dispenser, hand grenades, and rifle grenades.
At 9:00 PM Eastern time, President Eisenhower addressed the nation, explaining his decision to send troops to Little Rock and emphasizing that they had a narrow mission of enforcing the district court's order.
During the night of September 24-25, Walker and Wheeler met with city, school, and police officials. Little Rock police refused to escort the black students into the school, patrol hallways, or guard the school. Blossom asked for the Army to protect and patrol all Little Rock schools, but the Army refused: That was not their mission. Walker did agree, however, to address a Central High School Assembly to tell the students why the Army was there and that there was nothing to fear if they complied with the district court's order.
About 3 AM, Gen. Walker deployed three rifle companies to guard Central High School, and a bivouac and command post was set up on the athletic field. Military police in steel helmets and wearing gas-masks, bayonets fixed, set up check-points at all roads leading to the school. By 5 AM, deployment was complete. Soldiers patrolled the school halls, armed with billy clubs and sheathed bayonets.
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A mob, which would eventually number about 1,500, began forming outside the barricades at 8:00 AM. They were peaceful for the most part, although some white youths threw stones at cars driven by black people, and a black delivery boy was pinned down by white adults at a nearby house until troops came to his rescue. When school opened for the day at 8:45 AM, only 1,250 of the school's 2,000 students were in attendance. The assembly was held during the first period, with Walker pleading for cooperation. At 9:25 AM, two Army station wagons, escorted by Jeeps, arrived at Central High School. The nine students were escorted into the building, protected by 22 Airborne troops and a hovering Army helicopter. About 30 white students left the school, and the crowd turned ugly. Small groups of hecklers were constantly being told to disperse by the soldiers, and some had to be pushed back when they got too close to the barricades. One group refused to move, and the soldiers had to fix bayonets and advance on them. Three people were injured (one who tried to grab a rifle and was butted on the head, two suffered minor cuts on the arm after being brushed by a bayonet). Seven people were arrested. A number of white youths were arrested, admonished, and sent home. At bomb scare at 10 AM led the Army to conduct a fire drill while a search was conducted; nothing was found. The sullen crowd largely dispersed by mid-afternoon. When classes ended, the students were escorted out of the building by Army soldiers, and returned to their homes.
That night, soldiers of the 153rd Infantry of the Arkansas National Guard relieved the 101st Airborne as guards at the high school barricade. (They had not been involved in cordoning off the high school under Faubus.)
On Friday, September 27, so few protesters were showing up at Central High School that Walker reduced the number of guards to 270 from 319, and a football game and dance were allowed to proceed. Walker attempted to use Arkansas National Guard soldiers for indoor duty on October 1, but so few soldiers showed up for guard duty at doors and in hallways that white students began attacking the "Little Rock Nine". Although the 101st Airborne took over again on October 2, the level of protection they offered was much reduced since a rotation of soldiers from Camp Robinson had occurred -– leaving those on-site unacquainted with the school's layout and security needs in charge. School officials began suspending students who caused trouble or walked out of classes beginning on October 3.
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Beginning in mid-October, the Army began rotating soldiers of the 101st Airborne back to Ft. Campbell and new soldiers to Little Rock. Frozen-in-place units of the Arkansas National Guard were released from duty. By October 30, only the 153rd Infantry remained federalized. Local elections held in November saw the election of Warner C. Koop as the new moderate mayor of Little Rock (Mann declined to seek reelection), allowing even U.S. Army troops to be withdrawn. Walker took down the barricades, door guards, ground patrols, and escorts for the student on November 7. By November 10, just a small unit of riflemen and a marginal headquarters detachment remained. Most of the 153rd Infantry were released, too, and on November 13 the ANG was allowed to patrol the school without federal assistance (although federal troops remained on alert nearby).
An attempt to remove all federal forces in January 1958 led to an upswing in attacks on black students at Central High, which delayed the plan. By March, the incidents had ceased again, and gradual withdrawal of federal and ANG troops began again. Experiments with no hallway guards began in April, and were so successful that Walker announced the release of the National Guard from federal service. The school board hired six civilian guards (which students mistook for FBI agents), which helped keep calm in the school. Army soldiers kept a watchful eye on graduation ceremonies on May 28, during which Ernest Green became the first African American to graduate from Central High School. The last ANG soldiers were released from federal duty on May 29.
The U.S. Army left Little Rock on May 29 as well.
When the Arkansas legislature attempted to reimpose segregation in the 1958-1959 school year, the NAACP sued. Rather than obey an impending U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the laws, Governor Faubus (who had easily won reelection) closed the Little Rock public schools for an entire year. But the end was in sight: When schools reopened in August 1959, they were desegregated and largely free of protest and student-on-student violence.