Little Rock Senior (renamed Central in 1953) High School opens its doors for the first time. The school cost more than $1.5 million to construct.
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, the high school for African American students, opens. The school cost $400,000. It replaces Gibbs High School.
University of Arkansas School of Law is integrated.
Little Rock Public Library facilities integrated.
Fayetteville school superintendent Virgil Blossom hired to become new Little Rock School District superintendent.
May 17, 1954
The United States Supreme Court rules racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Five days later, the Little Rock School Board issues a policy statement saying it will comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.
May 22, 1954
The Little Rock School Board issues a policy statement saying it will comply with the US Supreme Court’s decision.
August 23, 1954
Under the direction of Pine Bluff attorney Wiley Branton, chairman of the state’s NAACP Legal Redress Committee, the NAACP petitions the Little Rock School Board for immediate integration.
August 23, 1954
Charleston, Arkansas, schools are integrated as eleven African American students attend classes with 480 white students
September 10, 1954
Fayetteville, Arkansas, schools are integrated. Some schools refused to play Fayetteville in football because the team had African-American players. The football team voted unanimously to forfeit those games rather than bench their African American teammates.
Horace Mann High School opens as the new African American high school for Little Rock students. The former Dunbar High School becomes a junior high facility for African American students.
May 24, 1955
The Little Rock School Board adopts the Blossom Plan of gradual integration beginning with the high school level (starting in September 1957) and the lower grades during the next six years.
May 31, 1955
The US Supreme Court further defines the standard of implementation for integration as being “with all deliberate speed,” in Brown II and charges the federal courts with establishing guidelines for compliance.
July 11, 1955
Hoxie, Arkansas, schools are integrated.
January 23, 1956
Twenty-seven African American students attempt to register in all-white Little Rock schools, but are turned down.
February 8, 1956
The NAACP files suit on behalf of thirty-three African American students denied admittance to four white schools.
August 28, 1956
Federal Judge John E. Miller dismisses the NAACP suit (Aaron v. Cooper), declaring that the Little Rock School Board has acted in “utmost good faith” in setting up its plan of gradual integration.
The City’s public buses are desegregated without incident.
April 29, 1957
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upholds Judge Miller’s dismissal.
517 African American students live in the Central High attendance district and are eligible to attend Central in the 1957-58 school year. Eighty express an interest in doing so. Following interviews with Superintendent Blossom and School District staff, seventeen (17) are selected for the first year of integration. Eight of those later decide to remain at all-black Horace Mann High School.
August 27, 1957
The segregationist Mother’s League of Central High School holds its first public meeting. They file a motion seeking a temporary injunction against school integration. Two days later, Pulaski Chancellor Murray Reed grants the injunction on the grounds that integration could lead to violence.
August 30, 1957
Federal Judge Ronald Davies nullifies the injunction and orders the School Board to proceed with its desegregation plan.
September 2, 1957 – (Labor Day)
Governor Orval Faubus orders the Arkansas National Guard to prohibit African American students from entering Central High School and announces his plans in a televised speech.
September 3, 1957
Judge Davies orders desegregation to start the next day.
September 4, 1957
The African American students attempt to enter Central High but are turned away. The iconic image of Elizabeth Eckford being taunted by the mob appears on TV that night and in newspapers the next day.
September 4, 1957
Little Rock’s newest high school, Hall High, opens for its first day of classes ever. It has an all-white student body.
September 14, 1957
President Dwight Eisenhower meets with Governor Faubus in an attempt to end the stalemate and allow the nine students to enter the school. Arkansas Congressman Brooks Hays helps facilitate the meeting.
September 20, 1957
Judge Davies rules that Faubus has not used the troops to preserve law and order and orders them removed. Faubus removes the Guardsmen and the Little Rock Police Department moves in.
September 23, 1957
An angry mob of over 1,000 whites gathers in front of Central High School, while nine African American students are escorted inside. The students, become collectively referred to as the Little Rock Nine. They were: Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Carlotta Walls. A few hours later the Little Rock police remove the nine students for their safety. President Eisenhower calls the rioting “disgraceful” and ordered federal troops into Little Rock.
September 24, 1957
1200 members of the 101st Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles” of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, roll into Little Rock. The Arkansas National Guard is placed under federal orders.
September 25, 1957
Under troop escort, the “Little Rock Nine” are escorted back into Central High School for their first full day of classes.
October 17, 1957
A Mother’s League petition to remove the federal troops is dismissed by Judge Davies.
November 27, 1957
101st Airborne leaves Little Rock. Replaced at Central High by National Guard and Little Rock Police.
December 17, 1957
Taunted by white students, Minnijean Brown, one of the Little Rock Nine, dumps a bowl of chili on a bystander in the cafeteria. She is suspended for six days.
February 6, 1958
Following additional harassment with white students, Minnijean Brown is expelled by the Board of Education.
February 20, 1958
The Little Rock School Board files a request for permission to delay integration until the concept of “all deliberate speed” is defined.
May 5, 1958
The Arkansas Gazette receives two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of the Central High crisis. The paper won the Pulitzer for Public Service and editor Harry Ashmore won for editorial writing.
May 25, 1958
Senior Ernest Green becomes the first African American student to graduate from Central High School.
June 3, 1958
Highlighting numerous discipline problems during the school year, the school board asks the court for permission to delay the desegregation plan in Cooper v. Aaron.
June 21, 1958
Judge Harry Lemley grants the delay of integration until January 1961.
August 18, 1958
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis reverses the Lemley delay order.
August 21, 1958
The School Board requests the Appeals Court to stay the order overturning Judge Lemley’s decision to allow for time to appeal to the Supreme Court.
August 23, 1958
Governor Faubus calls the Arkansas General Assembly in special session to pass laws aimed at blocking integration.
August 25, 1958
The U.S. Supreme Court announces a special session to discuss the Little Rock desegregation issue.
September 12, 1958
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Cooper v. Aaron decision is announced. Little Rock must continue with its desegregation plan.
September 12, 1958
The School Board orders the high schools to open September 15. Governor Faubus orders four Little Rock high schools closed as of 8:00 a.m., September 15, 1958, pending the outcome of a public vote.
September 16, 1958
The Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) forms and begins to solicit support for reopening the schools.
September 27, 1958
Citizens vote 19,470 to 7,561 against integration and the schools remain closed.
November 4, 1958
Congressman Brooks Hays is defeated in his bid for re-election by segregationist Dale Alford, a member of the Little Rock School Board. Alford mounted a last-minute write-in campaign.
November 12, 1958
Five of the six members of the Little Rock School Board resign in frustration, having been ordered by a federal appeals court to proceed with integration, though there were no high schools to integrate. Virgil Blossom is removed as superintendent.
November 27, 1958
Though the high schools are closed, Little Rock Central plays its first football game across crosstown rival Little Rock Hall. Both high schools had football teams throughout the season.
December 6, 1958
A new school board is elected with its membership evenly divided between those favoring compliance with federal orders and those favoring segregation.
December 18, 1958
Terrell Powell is named new LRSD superintendent.
January 14, 1959
New Little Rock Chamber of Commerce president Grainger Williams declares that the schools should be reopened as integrated in his remarks at the Chamber’s annual meeting.
February 3, 1959
Federal Judge John E. Miller denies the LRSD board’s motion to open all four high schools on a segregated basis.
March 3, 1959
After initially supporting reopening on a segregated basis, the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce votes in favor of reopening the schools with controlled integration acceptable to federal courts.
May 5, 1959
Segregationist members of the school board vote not to renew the contracts of 44 teachers and administrators they say supported integration.
May 8, 1959
Local businessmen form Stop This Outrageous Purge (STOP) and, working with the WEC, solicit voter signatures to recall the three segregationist board members.
May 16, 1959
Segregationists form the Committee to Retain Our Segregated Schools (CROSS).
May 25, 1959
STOP wins the recall election in close victory. Three segregationists are voted off the school board and three moderate members are retained.
June 11, 1959
The Pulaski County Board of Education appoints three new LRSD board members.
June 18, 1959
In Aaron v. McKinley, Federal court declares the state’s school closing law unconstitutional. The new school board announces it will reopen the high schools in the fall.
August 12, 1959
Little Rock public high schools reopen, nearly a month early. Segregationists rally at the State Capitol. They then march to Central High School where the police and fire departments break up the mob. Twenty-one people are arrested. Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls, two of the original Little Rock Nine, return to Central High for their senior year.
September 7, 1959
Labor Day bombings the school board offices, the front of the building that housed the mayor’s office, and a city-owned car that was parked in Fire Chief Gann Nalley’s driveway. These were in protest of the City’s acceptance of integration. Five men were later arrested and sentenced to between three to five years, though none served the entire length.
1959 to 1972
Limited pupil placement integration is in place at Central and Hall High Schools. Mann High School remains an all-African American High School.
February 23, 1960
The U.S. Supreme Court hands down decision in Daisy Bates vs. City of Little Rock. The court found that Little Rock and other cities in Arkansas were trying to stifle free association by compelling the NAACP and other organizations to release their membership rolls. The original intent of the laws had been one of intimidation.
September 5, 1961
Duke Ellington was supposed to be playing a concert at Little Rock’s Robinson Memorial Auditorium. Because of the City’s policy that the auditorium was segregated, Ellington cancelled the concert.
March 8, 1962
Twenty-two individuals file suit in U.S. District Court against the City of Little Rock to integrate the City’s public facilities.
February 15, 1963
Federal Judge J. Smith Henley rules in favor of the plaintiffs and orders the City to integrate parks, Robinson Auditorium, the Zoo, golf courses and the Arkansas Arts Center.
April 5, 1965
“Nine from Little Rock” receives the Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject, at the 37th Academy Awards presentation. The twenty minute film was narrated by Jefferson Thomas.
November 5, 1968
Charles Bussey, Sr., becomes the first African American elected to the City of Little Rock Board of Directors. He is the first African American to be elected to any municipal office in Little Rock since Reconstruction.
November 22, 1968
The Beatles release “Blackbird” which is inspired by the Little Rock Nine and their efforts to integrate Central High School.
August 22, 1980
L.C. Bates, NAACP leader and publisher of the Arkansas State Press, dies at the age of 76.
January 28, 1987
The efforts of the Little Rock Nine are featured in the second episode of the PBS documentary series Eyes on the Prize. This brings the story to a new generation.
October 24, 1987
The Little Rock Nine are all together at Central High for the first time since 1958. They are greeted by Little Rock Mayor Lottie Shackelford, who was Little Rock’s first female and second African American mayor.
Daisy Bates and Ernest Green are inducted into the inaugural class of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.
September 20, 1997
The Central High Museum and Visitor Center opens inside a refurbished Mobil Gas Station across the street from Central High School. It will eventually be absorbed into the National Park Service’s National Historic Site Visitors Center.
September 25, 1997
At the 40th anniversary of their integration of Central High, the Little Rock Nine walk through the front doors of Central. Instead of being escorted by the military, they enter through doors held open by President Bill Clinton, Governor Mike Huckabee, and Mayor Jim Dailey.
October 8, 1998
The 40th anniversary of the Women’s Emergency Committee is commemorated at the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House, which had been the group’s headquarters. For the first time ever, the entire membership roster is publicly revealed. The names have been etched in glass in the house’s solarium. The list also appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
November 6, 1998
President Bill Clinton signs the law which designates Little Rock Central High School a National Historic Site. The legislation, sponsored by Arkansas Senators Dale Bumpers and Tim Hutchinson, was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and by voice vote in the House of Representatives.
The Little Rock Nine incorporate the Little Rock Nine Foundation to promote the ideals of justice and equality of opportunity for all, especially in educational policies and practices.
November 4, 1999
Daisy Bates, longtime NAACP leader and advocate for the Little Rock Nine and integration in Arkansas, dies at the age of 84.
November 9, 1999
President Bill Clinton presents the Little Rock Nine with Congressional Gold Medals.
April 27, 2000
President Bill Clinton is the keynote speaker at a memorial service for Daisy Bates which was held in the auditorium of Robinson Center Music Hall.
November 11, 2000
A section of Fourteenth Street from Commerce to Woodrow Streets was renamed Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive. The street runs along the north side of the Central High campus. The event took place on what would have been Mrs. Bates’ 86th birthday.
January 3, 2001
The house of Daisy and L. C. Bates is designated a National Historic Landmark.
February 16, 2001
Arkansas House Bill 1204 is signed into law designating the third Monday in February as the Daisy Bates Holiday in Arkansas. It is held in conjunction with federal Washington Birthday Holiday.
September 24, 2007
The National Park Service dedicates the visitors’ center at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.
September 25, 2007
The fiftieth anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High is commemorated. The ceremony is the culmination of four days of events including an ecumenical service, educational seminars, and a gala fundraiser for the Little Rock Nine Foundation.
October 27, 2007
The Little Rock Nine are inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.
September 5, 2010
Jefferson Thomas, one of the Little Rock Nine, dies at the age of 67.
July 14, 2012
Daisy & L. C. Bates, attorney Christopher Mercer, and the Little Rock Nine each receive medallions in downtown Little Rock as part of the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail.
November 20, 2012
Attorney Christopher Mercer, who served as an NAACP field organizer and legal advisor to the Daisy and L. C. Bates and the Little Rock Nine, dies at the age of 88.
September 22, 2016
City of Little Rock, Little Rock School District, National Park Service, and community leaders start planning for the 60th anniversary commemoration activities.