Throughout the American South, of many Negro’s childhood, the system of segregation determined the patterns of life. Blacks attended separate schools from whites, were barred from pools and parks where whites swam and played, from cafes and hotels where whites ate and slept. On sidewalks, they were expected to step aside for whites. It took a brave person to challenge this system, when those that did suffered a white storm of rancour. Affronting this hatred, with assistance from the Federal Government, were nine courageous school children, permitted into the 1957/8 school year at Little Rock Central High. The unofficial leader of this band of students was Ernest Green.
The children of Little Rock Arkansas never doubted that, like every other southern Negro, they lived in an unequal, segregated society. In the twentieth century, the black population of Arkansas still endured periodic beatings, arrests and daily racial taunts at the slightest provocation. However, the law was turning in the Negroes favour. Various organisations including the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and Negro produced newspapers fought for an end to racial discrimination and for the advancement of the black population. “They began to assert political and economic pressure” against citizens, organisations and governments violating human rights. The victory in the 1954 Brown Vs Board of Education case granted the Federal Government the ability to pass school integration laws permitting Negro children to attend white schools. This was “a great forward step in achieving true equality” . Virgil Blossom, of the Little Rock school board, consented to nine black children integrating into Central High on September 4th 1957, 3 years after the United States Supreme Court decision.
Testament to his resilience and determination in the face of angry segregationists, Ernest assumed the role of head of his family at the age of sixteen, after his father’s death in 1953. Ernest’s mother, an elementary school teacher, and his younger brother Scott both respected this new allotment Ernest assumed at such a young age. His mother knew it was useless attempting to persuade the headstrong Ernest to reconsider attendance at Little Rock Central High School after he had been selected as one of the nine Negro children to attend. Students were selected based ...
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...e to breach Supreme Court sovereignty would render the different minorities, residing in the United States, helpless to further governmental legislature justifying racial discrimination. In their struggle to preserve racial inequality segregationists immorally resorted to using violence against children. Through “a sharp realisation of the shameful discrimination directed at small children” the world perceived an inconsistency in a nation that preached freedom for all, though denied the very same right to its children. Ernest Green and the other eight students “learned unmistakably that they possessed irresistible power” during the crisis but only if they realised it and united against discrimination and racism.
Bates, Daisy, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1987.
Degler, Carl N., Neither Black Nor White, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1971.
Jakoubek, Robert, Martin Luther King, Jr., Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 1989.
Levine, Ellen, Freedoms Children, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1993.
Poston, Ted, New York Post – Daily Magazine, 21st October 1957.
Poston, Ted, New York Post, 24th October 1957.
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