“Learn About” Questions
- Why did the military troops prevent the Little Rock Nine from entering Central? Whose decision was it?
- How were the Little Rock Nine chosen?
- What was Eisenhower’s role in this situation?
“Learn From” Questions
- Have I ever been in a situation where it would be easiest to just quit, but I stuck it out? What was the experience like?
- Have I ever had to deal with very serious road blocks to accomplishing a personal goal? How did I deal with the road blocks?
- Is there someone in my life who advocated for me in a way that made a big difference to me?
So here we are, that first day. You know, the soldiers are standing around with rifles and bayonets and they claim they didn’t have live ammunition in the guns but who knows. I didn’t want to test that. But also that I was out there kind of in no man’s land, that the probably political powers in Little Rock would love to see me go back to Horace Mann and that I just decided that that wasn’t an option and that I was gonna stick it out. When we started getting to the third week of the troops keeping us out, I did inquire with my sister that I might have to come to Baltimore to finish up my senior year because we had no idea that Eisenhower was gonna support us and that Faubus turned out to be a pretty canny negotiator and he was dangling the federal government along. And I knew that I was a bit player in all of this. We were, you know, the nine of us, waiting to see how this was gonna turn out. But we weren’t determining how it was gonna turn out and I figured I had to graduate that year, that was important to me. I had planned all this in my head, college and everything else I wanted to try and do, and I think that none of us, of the nine, thought about, you know, that this was all gonna get worked out. We didn’t know where it was going to end up. But the one thing I think, you know, going back to families, that none of the families pressured any of the students to give up and go back to the old high school. They really were willing to let us ride it out and stick by us and when I think about that, I mean, that was a powerful, a very powerful decision on their part. Because I’m sure they were hearing from neighbors, relatives, people they knew, folks they didn’t know, about why are you putting these kids at this sort of risk? In fact, I had a neighbor, this wasn’t a neighbor who gave me summer jobs, but he stopped me one day when the feds were, and Eisenhower was yet to make up his mind about supporting us, and he said, you know, you need to just go back to Horace Mann. Because you kids are causing all kinds of trouble. You’re gonna cause trouble for me personally because you’re gonna leave and I’m gonna be stuck with this mess you’ve created. And your mother’s got a good job and all of that. And the more I thought about it, I said, he obviously doesn’t understand that we’ve gotta change things. And I saw this as a beginning of the kind of change that you had to be willing to support.