Little Rock Nine

Elizabeth Eckford Little Rock Nine
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Elizabeth Eckford, who was one of nine black students to desegregate Little Rock's Central High School in 1957, recounted her experiences to a crowd Wednesday. She spoke in a lecture sponsored by the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators at Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center.

Brought on stage in a wheelchair by a ranger with the National Park Service, the 78-year-old Eckford was greeted by silent visual applause; a stark contrast to the chaos she endured as a member of the Little Rock Nine.

Little Rock Nine Central High
U.S. Army / Wikipedia

A weekend commemoration marked the turbulent integration of Little Rock’s Central High School. The event, held at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was called “Retracing the Footsteps of History Makers,” with members of the Little Rock Nine talking about what is was like attending the school.

Central High School
nps.gov / National Park Service

A plan to only grant Little Rock partial control of its schools is drawing complaints that the district may further segregate 62 years after nine black students were escorted into an all-white Central High School.

Arkansas has been in control of the 23,000-student district since January 2015, and a plan approved by the state Board of Education would return limited control of some schools to a local board that will be elected next year. While many details of the plan remain unclear, it has prompted comparisons by opponents to the 1957 crisis over Little Rock Central's integration.

Asa Hutchinson signing bills
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

All bills passed during the 2019 session of the Arkansas General Assembly have been signed into law. Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not veto any bills this year. He signed the final pieces of legislation Wednesday afternoon alongside several lawmakers.

A formal adjournment is set to take place next Wednesday when lawmakers return to the Capitol for Sine Die. In some previous years, that has been when senators and representatives have had to consider whether to attempt to override gubernatorial vetoes, something that won’t be necessary this time.

Asa Hutchinson Rosanne Cash Johnny Cash Daisy Bates
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Statues of singer Johnny Cash and civil rights leader Daisy Bates will eventually represent Arkansas in the U.S. Capitol. Gov. Asa Hutchinson was joined by members of the Cash family and the goddaughter of Bates for a bill signing ceremony Thursday at the state Capitol.

"This is an occasion that deserves a celebration about Arkansas history, about how we represent ourselves to the nation," Hutchinson said.

Johnny Cash Daisy Bates
Library of Congress/ National Park Service

Arkansas is moving closer toward replacing its statutes at the U.S. Capitol with ones depicting civil rights leader Daisy Bates and singer Johnny Cash.

The House approved Tuesday by 71-12 vote legislation to replace the state's statues at the Capitol depicting Uriah Rose and James P. Clarke. Rose was a 19th century attorney and Clarke was a governor and U.S. senator in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The bill now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who plans to sign it into law.

Johnny Cash Daisy Bates
Library of Congress/ National Park Service

A proposal to replace Arkansas’s two statues in the U.S. Capitol with singer Johnny Cash and civil rights leader Daisy Bates has advanced to the state House of Representatives for what could be a final vote. The bill was passed in the Arkansas Senate last month with no one voting against it.

Federal Government Shutdown Central High National Park Service
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Two major tourist attractions in Little Rock are at least partly closed becuase of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

The Clinton Presidential Center said Saturday that temporary and permanent exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum will be closed. A statement on the library and museum's website says National Archives facilities are closed due to the shutdown and websites are not being monitored or updated.

The center is located in Little Rock and is a top tourist attraction for Arkansas' capital city.

Elizabeth Eckford
National Park Service/ Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A bench now on display across from Little Rock’s Central High School commemorates one key moment from the school’s desegregation. It is a replica of one Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine sat on in 1957 after being kept from entering the school by national guardsmen.

Tuesday’s unveiling coincided with the 61st anniversary of the event.

Central High School’s Memory Project aims to encourage students to remember past events of the high school and to keep the memory of the Civil Rights Movement alive.

Little Rock Nine
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Four days of events marking the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School got underway Friday with the eight surviving members of the Little Rock Nine speaking to reporters. It comes amid a time of uncertainty for public schools as Arkansas has seen a rapid growth of publicly funded charter schools and what some view as a resegregating of schools.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Little Rock Central High School is honoring the Little Rock Nine’s 60th anniversary this week, and teachers from around the country are coming to Little Rock to participate. They aim to use their experiences and first-hand accounts gathered this week to take back with them to their students.

Joe De Pasqua, an American history teacher from Hartford, Connecticut who has been teaching about Little Rock for the past twenty years, will be in town this week for the ceremonies.

Elizabeth Eckford only had one concern before her first day of school. She wanted to make sure her white dress was finished so she could wear it. The next morning she was wearing the dress as her father paced back and forth in the hallway. She took a city bus to Little Rock Central High School. It was Sept. 4, 1957.

Former President Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former President Bill Clinton is to deliver the keynote address at a ceremony next month that will cap four days of events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School. The eight surviving members of the Little Rock Nine, who integrated the formerly all-white school in 1957, are also expected to take part.

Michael Hibblen
Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson shared his thoughts with a national audience on President Trump's response to violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. In an interview Friday on NPR's All Things Considered, the Arkansas Republican said the president needs to send a clear message that "white supremacy, neo-Nazism has no place in American values."

But Hutchinson also spoke against the removal of Confederate statues and monuments, saying it would be dismantling history.  

Little Rock Nine 9
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, joined Tueday (May 23) with civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to introduce legislation expanding boundaries of the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

This expansion would mean seven homes located near Little Rock Central High School would be included in the school’s national historic site designation and preserved by the National Park Service. The legislation is being introduced ahead of the city’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine in September.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The concrete base of a popular memorial at the Arkansas State Capitol in honor of the nine black students famous for integrating Little Rock Central High School is literally falling apart, a top official with the Secretary of State’s office said Thursday.

Kelly Boyd, chief deputy with Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office, told members of the State Capitol Arts and Ground Commission panel that nearly $8,000 will be spent to repair the memorial, one of the most visited memorials on the State Capitol grounds.

Secretary interior Sally jewell transportation secretary Anthony Foxx National Park Service Ranger Jodi Morris
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Two members of President Obama’s cabinet visited Little Rock Tuesday, getting a firsthand look at the historic Central High School. It was part of a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Little Rock Nine former President Bill Clinton prime minister Tony Blair Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in Little Rock Thursday, sharing concerns about growing divisiveness in the world. They spoke along with members of the Little Rock Nine to graduates of a leadership program before severe weather cut the event short.

The event was held in the auditorium at Central High School, with the former world leaders lamenting changes that have led to a hyper-partisan culture.

Little Rock Nine 9
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The National Archives has digitally remastered a film about the Little Rock Nine for the anniversary of its Academy Award win for best short documentary 50 years ago.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that it's the fifth film the archives' Motion Picture Preservation Lab has restored to cinema quality.

The film will be shown at the National Archives later in the spring and is available online.

The archives says the 18-minute film, titled Nine from Little Rock, was never intended for American viewers but was shown in hundreds of cities around the globe.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR

55 years ago, a modest home on West 28th Street in Little Rock was where the Little Rock Nine would meet to coordinate efforts to integrate Central High School.

During the days when National Guard troops kept them out of the school, it’s also where they would meet with tutors in the basement to keep up with their studies.

Today the home of L. C. and Daisy Bates is restored to the way it looked in those days and is available for tours from the National Park Service.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR

The nine African-Americans who integrated Central High School in 1957 are being featured in this week's issue of the New Yorker that looks at civil rights icons.

Standing in front of the school, the nine posed for the renowned photographer known as Platon, who has taken portraits of presidents and world leaders and was brought to Little Rock by the magazine for the assignment.

Members of the Little Rock Nine are now in their late 60s.  Only three live in Arkansas today, with the rest spread out around the world.