As students walked to classes, some did not recognize that a historic event happened 50 years ago. The Brown v. Board of Education case had just concluded three years ago and the nation’s process of integration had barely begun.In Little Rock, Ark., the Arkansas National Guard as ordered by then-Governor Orval Faubus barred nine Black students from entrance to Little Rock Central High School. The news made national headlines, and shortly afterwards, then-President Dwight Eisenhower told Faubus to not interfere with the Supreme Court ruling.
Even with the intervention, Eisenhower had to take more action. On Sept. 24, he ordered the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army to Little Rock and took the power of the Arkansas National Guard out of the hands of Faubus. On Sept. 25, 1957, the nine students successfully entered the school with the help of the 101st Airborne.
Fifty years and numerous commemorations later, the Little Rock Nine returned to the very same school that once barred them. On a day that recognized them, the Little Rock Nine were surprised by the celebrity-like fanfare, but still know that racism still exists.
“In spite of the progress that’s been talked about today, it is not nearly enough for me,” said Terrence Roberts, a member of the group greeted with cheers and standing ovations.
Central High is now 52 percent Black and appears to be a different place.
“You look at the students here and look at the diversity and see that this is not the same place it was,” said Zohoori, who is Iranian-American.
Clinton praised the Supreme Court and Eisenhower for their efforts to bring equality to a nation torn by inequality.
“I’m grateful we had a Supreme Court that saw ‘separate but equal’ and ‘states’ rights’ for the shams they were, hiding our desire to preserve the oppression of African-Americans,” Clinton said. “And I am grateful more than I can say that we had a president who was determined to enforce the order of the court.”
Not only is Clinton grateful, but also are GSU students.
“If it wasn’t for people like them or any other person that broke down that racial barrier, where would we be today?” asked Ahvery Thomas, a junior. “If it wasn’t for them going through that then, we might still be going through it now.