On September 25, 1957, a landmark moment in America’s Civil Rights movement took place in Little Rock, Arkansas, when the so-called Little Rock Nine entered their newly-desegregated high school for the first time. Magnum photographer Burt Glinn documented the history-defining episode; here, we review his notes from the time of the shoot as well as provide the context to these well-known images of a pivotal time in American history.
Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas was set to begin the 1957 school year desegregated. The 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Topeka had made segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Previously, a 1955 ruling (Brown II) ordered that public schools be desegregated with “all deliberate speed,” urging on the move towards desegregation without delays.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the Little Rock School Board agreed to comply with the ruling. A plan to begin the gradual integration was to be implemented in the fall of the 1957 school year, with nine students registered, due to start classes in September 1957. However, the Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, defied both of these rulings. Continue reading.