Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
Little Rock Central High School Desegregation Silver Dollar
When I learned the story behind my coin this month, it made me proud. I hope you will be too. The coin is a brand-new silver dollar. It commemorates the day when nine high school students helped to make sure that the rights of all American citizens are recognized and protected.
Fifty years ago last month, nine brave students in Arkansas made national news just by going to school. What made it news was that the students were black (African Americans) and the school was segregated—that is, it was supposed to be an “all-white” school.
According to the state of Arkansas, black students were not allowed to attend Little Rock Central High School. But according to the Constitution of the United States and the Supreme Court, they were allowed. If these students signed up to attend the school, it would become desegregated, and some people tried to keep that from happening.
As the students walked to the school in September 1957, other members of the community gathered to try to make them turn back. The governor of Arkansas even sent the Arkansas National Guard to keep the students out of the school, challenging the ruling of the Supreme Court. But President Eisenhower, as Commander-in-Chief of all US armed forces, ordered this National Guard unit out of Little Rock. He sent federal troops in to make sure the students could register safely.
The nine students (Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Melba Pattillo, Jefferson Thomas, Carlotta Walls, Terrence Roberts, Gloria Ray, Thelma Mothershed, and Minnijean Brown) are now known as the “Little Rock Nine.” Their bravery in the face of violence helped to change American history and stop schools from separating students based on their race.
I bet that this silver dollar will help us and people all around the world remember this important event!