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Field Trip Idea: National Museum of American History Adds Items from Little Rock Nine

Field Trip Idea: National Museum of American History Adds Items from Little Rock Nine

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has added over twenty objects from the Little Rock Nine just in time for the beginning of Black History Month.

The objects, which will go on display Feb. 8, include "a Little Rock Central High School year book, a graduation dress, a personal letter from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a notice of suspension and photographs, from Minnijean Brown Trickey, who is known as one of the Little Rock Nine,” said the museum in a statement.

The objects help further tell the story of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African American students who put the Supreme Court’s Brown v Board of Education decision to the test by enrolling in the formerly segregated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.

"When nine African American students arrived at Central High School on the first day of school in 1957, they were met by the Arkansas National Guard, who on the governor's orders, prevented them from entering. Eisenhower intervened, and the students entered the school Sept. 25, three weeks after the start of the school year,”the Museum said in its statement.

But despite Eisenhower’s intervention, that didn’t mean a high school career without incident for the nine students.

"To thwart desegregation, Little Rock closed its four public high schools from 1958 to 1959 and it was a lost year for most students. Trickey, whose donation includes both a letter of thanks from Eisenhower to her parents in appreciation for her integrating the school and her suspension notice, was subsequently expelled from the high school”

The Little Rock Nine students were forced to continue schooling elsewhere, join the military or find employment without graduating.

The items soon-to-be on display in the museum further tell the story of the Little Rock Nine’s fateful journey that began in Sept. 1957 and continues to this day.

“Other Little Rock Nine objects in the museum's education collections, which are housed in the Division of Home and Community Life, include two report cards and a certificate from Terrance Roberts, who was another of the nine students,” the museum said.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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