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Study Guide | Film

Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later

Central High School, Little Rock Arkansas 

In 1957, three years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling declared segregated public schools unconstitutional, nine African-American students selected by the NAACP attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School for the first day of the fall semester. As they approached the school, the Little Rock Nine, as they came to be called, were confronted with an angry mob of white segregationists and National Guard soldiers under orders from the governor to prohibit them from entering the school. Only after President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded by sending in troops from the 101st Airborne Division of the US army were the students able to enter and begin their education.

Brent and Craig Renaud’s documentary Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later reflects back on the events that occurred in 1957 and examines the state of Little Rock Central today. The film presents multiple perspectives on the racial, social, and economic divisions that currently exist within the school, and asks the viewer to examine the ramifications of these divisions. This merging of the past with the present provides an invaluable entry-point into both a classroom exploration of a historic moment from the civil rights era, and a classroom dialogue about how the roots of these issues continue to persist at large in American society.

“BAM Education study guides are supported by the Frederick Loewe Foundation.”