Sunday, May 20, 2007
LITTLE ROCK, May 19 -- Fifty years ago, nine black students faced down a mob to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Now they are being honored on a commemorative silver coin.
The U.S. Mint introduced the coin Saturday at the NAACP's Daisy Bates Education Summit, which pays tribute to the Arkansas NAACP leader who served as adviser to the Little Rock Nine.
Six of the nine attended a discussion Saturday with current Central High students at the summit.
Integration at Central High in 1957 was the first major test of the Supreme Court's ruling, three years earlier, against racial discrimination in public schools.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower dispatched the 101st Airborne Division to enforce the court order after Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus tried to prevent black students from enrolling at the school.
One side of the $1 coin depicts a group of students being escorted by a soldier. It features the phrase "Desegregation in Education" and contains nine stars. The other side depicts Central High as it looked in 1957.
Little Rock plans to mark the 50th anniversary of the integration in September with a series of events, including the dedication of a new Central High School Historic Site visitor center.