How Civil Disobedience Helps Overcome Oppression: Part 6

Published on November 24, 2021 by

How Civil Disobedience Helps Overcome Oppression: Part 6
“A Southern High School Gets Desegregated”

“Just because the 1954 Brown v Board ruling said school segregation was unconstitutional doesn’t mean we have to desegregate schools.”

That’s likely what many people (including elected officials) in America said. So they didn’t follow the Supreme Court ruling for years. Autherine Lucy and a friend tried to join the University of Alabama in 1956. It didn’t work.

Meanwhile in Arkansas, after a 1956 successful lawsuit filed against the Little Rock School District, their high schools had the be integrated the following school year.

Nine top-level Black students would attend Little Rock Central High School. They would be supported and directed by NAACP Arkansas leader Daisy Bates, who also owned an influential local Black-owned newspaper called “Arkansas State Press”.

After some resistance from the Governor, the nine students integrated the school with an “assigned troop” walking with them throughout the year. One of the students was expelled for standing up to a White student during lunch. But the school year ended and everyone came out alive.

As a response, the city of Little Rock closed schools the following year to combat “forced” desegregation, and many White advertisers boycotted Bates “Arkansas State Press” newspaper, causing it to shut down a few years later (she did revive it for a while in the 1980s). Bates eventually moved to D.C. and worked in Lyndon Johnson’s Administration during the 1960s.

In all, the “Little Rock Nine” are remembered for their defiance to attend a previously all-white school, and was another symbol of how non-violence can break down an oppressive system, courts or no courts.

View Part 7 here.

View Part 5 here.


**About this series:

We’re showing a multi-part series on how CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE has been the main catalyst that has overcome oppression in the U.S.

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