This is a photo taken in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, during the Little Rock Crisis.  The crisis was precipitated by the Brown vs. The Board of Education ruling in 1954 which stated that segregated schools were unconstitutional.  However, integration did not immediately follow in the American South.  As part of the Civil Rights Movement, nine black students registered at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.

Source: a LIFE photo essay to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the crisis.  

Source: a LIFE photo essay to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the crisis.

 

When the nine students showed up for school on their first day, the governor of Arkansas sent in the National Guard to prevent them from entering the school.  The mayor of Little Rock then asked the President of the United States to send in the Army to make sure the students were allowed to attend.  However, the students faced a year’s worth of verbal abuse, threats, racism and intimidation and only 8 of the 9 students made it to the end of the school year.

This photo shows a pack of white students, anti-integrationists, following two black students on a Little Rock street.  They are taunting and jeering at the two students; in particular look at the man walking at the back of the pack.  I find it amazing how one photo can record the emotions of a historical event – we can see the anger of the man who is yelling, we can feel the pain of the two men who are looking at the ground while they are being verbally abused, and the reader/audience feels fear watching the men being following by their pack of abusers. 

 

This article originally appeared on the History Kicks Ass blog, an interesting blog about various topics in history!

 

Want to hear more on the 1950s? Catch our podcast on the President during the 1950s here. 

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones