What Happened Next: A Federal Court Order

On Friday, September 10th, U.S. District Judge Ronald N. Davies ruled that the state could not continue to block integration. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus responded to the court order by withdrawing the Arkansas National Guard.

The following Monday, about 100 Little Rock police officers placed wooden barricades around Central High as over a thousand angry white men and women from Arkansas and surrounding states gathered in front of the building. To avoid the mob, the African American students entered the school through a side door. After learning the students were in the building, the crowd went on a rampage.

By midmorning, the mob had attacked both black and white journalists, broken windows and doors in the school, and come close to capturing the “Little Rock Nine.” The police had to smuggle them out of the school for their own safety. Melba Patillo later said of that day:

The first time I was able to enter Central High School, what I felt inside was stark raving fear—terrible, watching, awful fear….There are no words for how I felt inside. I had known no pain like that because I did not know what I had done wrong. You see, when you’re fifteen years old and someone’s going to hit you or hurt you, you want to know what you did wrong. Although I knew the differences between black and white, I didn’t know the penalties one paid for being black at that time.

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