Fifty-seven years ago, on September 27, 1958, a decision was made that resulted in over 3,500 high school students losing a year of education.
Four years earlier, the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education ordered school boards to draft desegregation plans. In Little Rock, that plan was drafted and set to be implemented in the 1957-58 school year. Nine black students, “The Little Rock Nine” were registered to integrate the school. The year was a tumultuous one, but ultimately, students completed the school year.
However, the battle to integrate did not end there. Governor Orval Faubus, who did not support school integration, petitioned for a delay in the implantation of the desegregation plan. Despite an order from the Supreme Court to integrate on September 12, 1958, Gov. Fabus, as allowed by an Arkansas state law, closed public schools pending a public vote. The people of Arkansas voted 19,470 to 7561 in favor of keeping schools closed, rather than integrate, and the 1958-59 school year became known as “The Lost Year.”
Hosted by the late D’Army Bailey, Moments in Civil Rights History is produced in collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative and is part of Comcast NBCUniversal’s “His Dream, Our Stories” project. Visit His Dream, Our Stories for more Civil Rights History, first-hand accounts from those who led, participated in or benefited from the Movement, or to share a civil rights story of your own (or that of a loved one).
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