BRIAN FULTON’S DAY IN HISTORY — 63 YEARS AGO
Sept. 25, 1957
Little Rock High School integrated
Today, Sept. 25, nine black students were escorted by a group of paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division to take their place at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
President Dwight Eisenhower ordered the soldiers to Little Rock to ensure that “mob rule can not be allowed to override the decisions of the court.”
The nine students were Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckord, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, Carlotta Walls, Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray, Thelma Mothershed and Melba Pattillo.
As the troops escorted the students to the school, two men were injured. One man tried to grab a soldier’s rifle. That man was struck in the face with the butt of the rifle. The second man received a cut from a soldier’s bayonet because he was too slow in obeying the soldier’s order.
Once the students were inside the school, Principal Jess Matthews told the press “everything is calm inside the school and education is proceeding normally.” Another school official said that a total number of 1,250 students were in attendance with 750 absent. The day before 800 students were absent.
At the beginning of September, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the nine students from attending school at Central High
School. On Sept. 20, U.S. Judge Ronald Davies ordered the National Guard be removed and for the Little Rock Police to escort the students into the school.
Protests erupted when the police escorted the students into the school on Sept. 23. As the protesting intensified, the students were escorted back out of the school. Eisenhower then announced that he was sending in the 101st Airborne and that he was federalizing the Arkansas National Guard.
Salk vaccine free
Dr. Francis Boland, president of the Lackawanna County Medical Society, announced that children in Lackawanna County who had received two inoculations of the Salk antipolio vaccine would receive the final and most important inoculation for free.
The county received enough vaccines to inoculate 35,000 children. The inoculation would be administered at school starting in October.
Boland publicly thanked Dr. Frank Larkin for working out the agreement with the state Department of Health to provide the last inoculation for free.
Boland reminded parents that if their child was not vaccinated and had started school, they needed to visit their family doctor to receive the vaccination.
Troops of the 101st Airborne Division keep a small crowd moving that had gathered Sept. 25, 1957, across the street from Little Rock Central High School.
In this Sept. 25, 1957, file photo, troops of the 101st Airborne Division escort nine black students into Little Rock Central High School.