327th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 101st Airborne escort two African American students at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, September 1957.
Photograph by John T. Bledsoe, U.S. News and World Report, courtesy National Archives

Download this file

  • On September 24, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Troops from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division enforced the integration plan agreed to by the high school, and protected the nine African American students enrolled there. 

    Prior to Eisenhower’s actions, Gov. Orval Fabus deployed the Arkansas National Guard to block the Little Rock Nine from entering the high school. The president then sent in the Army and federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard. By federalizing the guard, Eisenhower mobilized members as federal—not state—military personnel.

    Desegregation was a slow and violent process across the U.S. African American students, families, and communities were harassed, bullied, and attacked. All-white “splinter school districts” persisted until the early 1970s.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    army Noun

    military land forces.

    enroll Verb

    to enter or participate.

    federal Adjective

    having to do with a nation's government (as opposed to local or regional government).

    integration Noun

    process of mixing different substances or groups.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    National Guard Noun

    military force controlled by a U.S. state but funded by the federal government and called up as part of the Army during national emergencies.

    persist Verb

    to endure or continue.

    personnel Noun

    employees or all people working toward a common goal.

    prior Adjective

    before or ahead of.