This month marks 23 years that Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas became part of the National Park Service. On Nov. 6, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed legislation designating the school and nearby properties as a National Historic Site. Do you know why?
In the 1950s, Central High School became a critical flashpoint in our nation’s struggle for equality and inclusion shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown v. Board of Education mandating desegregation. When nine African American teenagers showed up for class in the formerly all-white high school, they were met with angry mobs. Fearing for their safety, Little Rock police removed the students from the school until federal troops were later mobilized to escort them inside.
In his comments during the site’s official entry into the National Park system, President Clinton said Central High School was commemorated in order to “preserve, protect, and interpret for the benefit, education, and inspiration of present and future generations…its role in the integration of public schools and the development of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.”
Central High is the only operating high school in the nation to receive such a designation, and JNPA is proud to partner with this important site.