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Timeline of Events: 1896-2007 

1896

U.S. Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that separate facilities based on race are constitutional as long as the facilities are equal.

1927

September — Little Rock Senior High School opens. NY Times reports $1.5 million construction cost is most expensive in U.S. history.

1929

Fall — Dunbar High School opens for black students. Total cost is $400,000.

1953

Little Rock Senior High School is renamed Little Rock Central High School.

1954

May 17 — U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

May 22 — Little Rock School Board declares it will comply with the Supreme Court's decision when the court outlines method to be followed and time to be allowed.

Aug. 23 — NAACP petitions Little Rock School Board for immediate integration.

1955

May 24 — Little Rock School Board adopts Blossom Plan (named for Superintendent Virgil T. Blossom) of gradual integration beginning at the high school level in September 1957.

May 31 — U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown II, calls for implementing desegregation “with all deliberate speed.”

1956

Feb. 8 — NAACP files federal court lawsuit, Aaron v. Cooper, on behalf of 33 black children denied admittance to four white Little Rock schools.

Aug. 28 — U.S. District Judge John E. Miller dismisses Aaron v. Cooper and says Little Rock School Board has acted in “utmost good faith” in preparing for gradual integration.

1957

April 29 — Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upholds Judge Miller's dismissal of Aaron v. Cooper but retains jurisdiction, making the Blossom Plan a court mandate.

Aug. 29 — Pulaski County Chancellor Murray Reed grants temporary injunction against school integration sought by Mothers League of Central High School.

Aug. 30 — U.S. District Judge Ronald Davies nullifies Reed's ruling and orders School Board to proceed with gradual integration plan and opening of school Sept. 3, 1957.

Sept. 2 (Labor Day) — Gov. Orval E. Faubus calls out Arkansas National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering Central High School. He states in televised speech that he is acting to prevent violence and cites “information” that caravans of automobiles, filled with white supremacists, are headed toward Little Rock. School Board orders the nine black students who had registered at Central not to attempt to attend school.

Sept. 3 — Judge Davies orders desegregation to start Sept. 4; Faubus orders National Guard to remain at Central.

Sept. 4 — Nine black students attempt to enter Central, but are turned away by National Guard. Faubus telegraphs President Dwight D. Eisenhower to stop “unwarranted interference of federal agents.”

Sept. 20 — Judge Davies rules Faubus has not used the National Guard to preserve law and order, and orders removal of troops unless they protect the nine black students as they enter the school. Faubus removes the National Guard.

Sept. 23 — Angry mob of more than 1,000 whites curse and fight in front of Central as Little Rock police escort nine black students inside. Police later remove the nine from the school for their safety.

Sept. 24 — Twelve-hundred members of the 101st Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles” of Fort Campbell, Ky., roll into Little Rock. Eisenhower places Arkansas National Guard under federal orders.

Sept. 25 — Under military escort, the nine black children re-enter Central High School.

Sept. 26 — Faubus, in televised address, states: “We are now an occupied territory. Evidence of the naked force of the federal government is here apparent in these unsheathed bayonets in the backs of schoolgirls ...”

1958

Jan. 8 — Jim Johnson of Crossett, a segregationist leader, files a proposed amendment to the state constitution authorizing school districts facing court-ordered desegregation to close their schools.

May 25 — Ernest Green becomes first black student to graduate from Central High School, as police and federal troops stand by.

June 21 — U.S. District Judge Harry Lemley grants a delay in integration of Little Rock schools until January 1961, stating that the black students have a constitutional right to attend white schools, but the “time has not come for them to enjoy that right.”

Sept. 12 — U.S. Supreme Court rules Little Rock must continue with its integration plan. School Board orders the high schools to open Sept. 15. Faubus signs a school closing bill and orders the four Little Rock high schools closed as of Sept. 15.

Sept. 18 — Faubus announces plan for private schools, citing an 1875 statute allowing for “a private school to be taught in the district schoolhouse during such time as the said house is not occupied by a public school.”

Sept. 27 — Little Rock voters decide 19,470 to 7,561 in special election to oppose
immediate integration of public schools.

Sept. 29 — School Board leases closed schools to the Private School Corporation (PSC), but, within hours, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocks the transaction.

1959

May 5 — Segregationist members of the School Board try to fire 44 teachers and administrators because of “integrationist tendencies.” The three moderate School Board members walk out of the board meeting.

May 8 — Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools and local businessmen form committee to Stop This Outrageous Purge (STOP).

May 25 — Three segregationists are voted off the School Board in a recall election; the three moderates are retained.

Aug. 12 — Little Rock public high schools reopen, nearly a month early.

1965

Little Rock School District shifts to a “freedom of choice” plan which allows students to attend any school they want.

1966

Group of black parents file a federal court lawsuit, Clark v. Board of Education, saying their children are being denied access to white schools.

1973

Little Rock School District begins busing white and black students to schools in an effort to comply with desegregation orders,

1983

Little Rock School District files suit to consolidate the three school districts in Pulaski County, citing difficulties in its attempt to achieve integration.

1984

U.S. District Judge Henry Woods orders consolidation of the three districts in Pulaski County.

1990

The three school districts in Pulaski County reach settlement in consolidation case that Judge Woods finds unacceptable. Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overrules Woods and approves the settlement.

2007

U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson declares Little Rock School District “unitary,” or desegregated, and releases it from federal court supervision.

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