September 18, 2014
While we were in Little Rock last weekend, several members of our group went to check out Central High School, which was at the center of the 1957 integration crisis. The integration of Central High by President Eisenhower – who used the 101st Airborne Division to accomplish his goal – resulted in the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was the first federal civil rights law since Reconstruction.
Little Rock was a major victory for the nascent Civil Rights Movement. In the 57 years that have passed since then though, the neighborhood that surrounds Central High School, which remains a physically impressive structure, has degenerated into a blighted ghetto of boarded up homes, vacant lots, and crack houses. The Black Undertow has obviously been very busy shooting each other, lowering residential property value, and destroying commercial activity in the Little Rock School District.
Following in the footsteps of the Little Rock Nine, nine of us went to Central High School in search of the capable and industrious negroes who MLK saw from the mountaintop, who after over fifty years of integration have overcome the racial gaps in test scores, and who have exercised their hard won freedom and civil rights to dispel racial stereotypes and demonstrate their inherent capacity to maintain and advance the civilization that was bequeathed to them by the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement.
MLK’s dream came true. After $1 billion dollars was spent fostering racial equality in this high school, this is what we found: