Little Rock Central High School

How can a high school (a school that still actively enrolls students at that) be considered as a heritage landmark? A school in Little Rock, Arkansas holds the unique distinction of being a school considered as a National Historic Landmark and National Historic Site. This school is Little Rock Central High School. This article will talk about a short history of the place, why you should visit it, and why it holds a significant place in the city’s history.

Little Rock Central High School is an accredited comprehensive public high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. The campus sits at the intersection between Daisy L. Gateson Bates Drive and Park Street. First established in 1869 as Sherman School, it has changed locations and names multiple times. The school officially became Little Rock Central High School in 1953.

Little Rock Central High School used to be a school that only caters to white people. During this time, a lot of schools in Arkansas and other states are racially segregated. The school became the epicenter of what was called the “Little Rock Integration Crisis” of 1957. During the said year, 9 black students were denied entrance to the school, which defied the 1954 US Supreme Court ruling that stipulated the integration of public schools. This led to the intervention of then-US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

A global audience watched captivated as President Eisenhower and Arkansas Governor Ovral Faubus clashed over the legality of the integration movement. This event served as one of the most momentous events of the black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. At the end of the standoff, blacks were eventually integrated into the school. This event served as an inspiration for the black rights movement, and has served as an important moment in the commencement of integration in American schools.

On August 19, 1977, Little Rock Central High School became a part of the National Register of Historic Places. The school was declared as a National Historic Landmark on May 20, 1982. Up to this day, Little Rock Central High School has been educating students from 9th to 12th grade, with majority of their students being blacks.

The Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site has a visitor center located across the street. The site contains an interpretative film of the Little Rock Integration Crisis, as well as multimedia exhibits that chronicle the desegregation movement of the 20th century.