Arkansas troops defy federal integration order

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Sept. 4, 1957 (UP) - Arkansas national guardsmen stopped eight Negroes from entering Central High School today. They acted in defiance of a federal judge's order that the school was to be integrated. About 500 white civilians looked on as the Negroes met the guardsmen. "Bash her head in," came a cry from the crowd as one Negro girl walked way from the school.

At noon, State Adjutant General Sherman Klinger announced that federal marshals are going to try to take Negro children through the national guard lines at Central High.


The first marshal was reported to have already arrived, though no Negroes were with him.

"There is a bunch of resolute boys who are going to resist," Klinger said.

The troops had been called out Monday night by Gov. Orval E. Faubus. He ordered them to prevent Negroes from entering Central High because "it might set off a riot" between Negroes and whites.

No Negroes approached the school on opening day yesterday. But last night Federal Judge Ronald N. Davies ordered the school desegregated at once.

He said he would accept Faubus' explanation that the troops were sent to the school to prevent violence. The school board, after learning of the judge's order, declared the integration order "was in full effect."


But Faubus refused to withdraw the troops and ordered them to keep the Negroes out. Those orders were confirmed by the guardsmen themselves.

Today, eight Negroes tried to enter the school. The first said he was Perrence Roberts. He said he had an "A" record last semester in Little Rock's all Negro school.

As he tried to enter Central High, a major ordered his men to "close it up." They shut the door in the Negro's face.

The troops stopped another Negro with Roberts. Six more Negroes came up in a group and were turned back.

Roberts said Little Rock School Supt. Virgil T. Blossom had told him to try to register but if he met any resistance to return home.

He said he was "plenty scared" but only of the white persons outside the school.

"I didn't fear the students inside," he said. "I felt that if I once got inside, they would accept me."

Another of the Negroes who tried to register today was Elizabeth Ford, 14.

She walked along in front of the school, looking neither right nor left. At first, she refused to give her name. Then, having at last said who she was, she refused to say whether she will try again to enroll.


She went toward a bus stop at the corner of the school. A crowd gathered about her. It was not unruly, but one person shouted "bash her head in."

Another yelled, "kill the black S-O-B."

A United Press reporter could not tell whether the voices were of students or adults.

At the time of the incident, the girl was not protected by guardsmen.

An unidentified white woman worked her way into the crowd and offered to escort the Negro girl into the clear.

"Why don't you go back to New York?" the crowd yelled.

The woman tried to get a taxi, but there was none. A city bus came along and though several boys tried to keep the woman and the Negro girl from getting into the bus, the driver let them in and closed the door.

Boys tried to stall a car in front of the bus, but state police made them move on and the bus finally got away from the school grounds.

The six Negro students who tried to enter the school were escorted by three Negro preachers. They got only as far as a corner of the campus sidewalk, where guardsmen formed into ranks and turned them back.


Actually, the federal judge some months ago ordered integration to start in Little Rock schools. The plan was to start Negroes and whites sitting together in the 12th grade and then add another integrated grade each year.

About 15 Negroes were eligible to attend Central High this year.

Faubus fought even that gradual plan and Monday night ordered the troops out. He originally stationed 90 armed men around the school campus.

Yesterday the total grew to 125, and they were equipped with armored vehicles, rifles, pistols and clubs.

U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. stepped in to the case yesterday, to see whether Faubus had made himself liable to contempt of Davies' court in ordering out the guard.

Blossom and the school board, at the time Faubus sent in the troops, urged the 15 or 16 Negroes who wanted to go to Central High to stay at home.

On the presumption that this also made the board liable to contempt charges, the board asked Davies for a clarification. He ordered, for the second time, that the school be desegregated and suggested that the troops be used for what the governor said they were intended - "to prevent violence."

Faubus did not recall the troops and about 125 remained all night. At 7 a.m., today, reinforcements arrived and when school opened, there were again 250 troops at the school.


Students, with their parents and other persons - about 100 persons in all - gathered on the other side of the street opposite the school.

Some white students said that if Negroes were allowed in the school, they would refuse to attend.

One of the white students was asked whether he was talking about a boycott.

"I did not say that," the student replied.

"I merely said that if Negroes go into the building, I will not."

A white girl said she and a number of her friends will stay out if the Negroes go in.

The Arkansas Gazette said it made a check of all Little Rock stores selling guns and knives. The newspaper said dealers reported no unusual increase in the sale of possible weapons.

Faubus, in his television speech Monday night, said reports of large sales of knives and guns were a large factor in placing the troops at Central High.

The Gazette quoted Little Rock Police Chief Marvin H. Pott as saying his men had taken no pistols from students and "we haven't seen any caravans, either."

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