Today is the 50th anniversary of an event that most people will sadly, not remember. Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was desegregated fifty years ago today. Gov. Orval E. Faubus blocked nine black students from entering all white Central High School for three weeks in September of 1957. It is fifty years ago today that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, took control and sent in the 101st Airborne to see that these nine heroic kids would be able to enter the school. Not many people look to Eisenhower as a civil rights pioneer, but he was. When Atty. General Robert Kennedy was deep in racial issues on behalf of his brothers Presidency, he looked to Eisenhower's handling of Central High as a model.
The fact of this anniversary is instructive for us in a few areas. First the lack of knowledge of this event by most is an indictment of our cultures lack of historical knowledge. Danger being, as it has been said, those who do not understand history are bound to repeat it. Having said that it is also a day where we can celebrate the progress of civil rights in our country. We live today only fifty years later where people off all races can attend school together. We live in a day where we have minorities who feel the freedom to run for the highest office in the land. While there is still room to grow, we should look to this anniversary as a day to celebrate the progress and the people from whom it came. Pres. Eisenhower is to be commended for having the courage to do what no President wants to do, and that is send forces into an American city. But he saw the need, and had the fortitude to do what needed to be done. And we do not want to forget the heroic nine who had the amazing courage to walk up those steps and attempt to enter a school,knowing the danger and hostility they would face. Like "Elizabeth Eckford, armed only with a notebook, went alone to the front of the school on the first day and confronted the Arkansas National Guard troops blocking the front door."
Courage to be admired and imitated!
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