Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
On September 4, 1957, 9 African American students tried to do something completely normal for teenagers - go to school. When they arrived at school, however, they found their way blocked by armed Arkansas National Guardsmen. Governor Orval Faubus had mobilized the troops to, according to him, “prevent bloodshed” from a mob. President Eisenhower was skeptical, and he moved in the 101st Army Airborne Division to escort the students back to school. The months that followed were full of physical and verbal abuse towards the students. No two of the students were placed in the same class. They were also barred from extra-curricular activities. The nine remained, however.
In the fall of 1958, the governor shut down the entire school district to stop integration. However, the Supreme Court forced him to reopen the schools in December. Full integration was finally achieved.