Choices People Made: White Citizens of Little Rock

"Two, four, six, eight. We ain't gonna integrate!"
--Chant heard outside Central Hight School


The Rev. Colbert Cartwright of the Pulaski Heights Christian Church was at Central High School the day the mob taunted Elizabeth Eckford. He asked Daisy Bates what he could do to help. She asked him to go to the FBI and give a deposition as a witness to the event. Cartwright gave the deposition.

On October 12, 1957, over 6,000 citizens of Little Rock and neighboring communities joined Cartwright, other ministers, priests, and the only rabbi in the community for a day of prayer for peace. The next day, life went on much as it did before.

Perlesta Hollingsworth, an African American who lived in the city at the time, recalls, "The shocking thing to me in 1957 was the number of whites who didn't participate in the aggression, who wouldn't do anything but look. Neighbors would express dismay, but wouldn't do anything, wouldn't speak out against it, would go ahead and close their doors to it."

As a result of the stand Cartwright took, 31 members left the church he served -- 10 percent of the 300-member congregation. Other ministers were not as fortunate. Some lost their congregations; others were forced to leave town.

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