Saluting Integration's Heroes

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fifty years ago next month, one of the first major school-integration showdowns occurred in Little Rock. Behind it were nine black students, ages 14 to 16, who volunteered to act on the earlier Brown v. Board of Education ruling and enter all-white Central High School; they were met with hate-spewing protesters and a governor intent on keeping them out.

The governor, Orval Faubus, ordered the National Guard to bar their entry, and it took three weeks for the students, called the Little Rock Nine, to finally make it through the front doors -- and then only when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent troops to escort them.

Beginning today, the National Archives celebrates the anniversary of the brave students' act with an exhibition of documents and programming that will continue through next month.

Today, "Fifty Years After Little Rock" will open in the East Rotunda Gallery of the archives. The small collection will feature photos of the students and images that capture their attempts to enter Central High, as well as documentation describing their entry and the acts of hate they continued to endure as they attended the school. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. through Sept. 3; Beginning Sept. 4, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Through Oct. 8.

In conjunction with the opening, the National Archives joins with the Newseum to present a film and discussion tonight. The event, titled "The Media and the Movement," will include screening of a clip from the documentary "The Press and the Civil Rights Movement," after which the film's producer, Frank Bond, will lead a panel discussion. 6:30 p.m. McGowan Theater, Constitution Avenue between Seventh and Ninth streets NW.

And on Sept. 27 (the actual date the students entered Central High with federal escorts), the archives and National Museum of American History will show the 1964 Oscar-winning short-subject documentary "Nine From Little Rock." And after that film, panelists including Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture; and Carlotta Walls LaNier and Ernest Green, two members of the Little Rock Nine, will discuss the film and the era. 7 p.m. McGowan Theater.

All events and exhibitions are free. For information, call 202-357-5000.

Save the Date

[ THE GREAT OUTDOORS ] It's Puppy Love The Humane Society hosts its second Walk for the Animals next month on the Mall, and offering pet owners a chance to walk with their dogs while raising money helps provide services to abused and homeless pets. To sweeten the pot, there'll be a best-dressed canine contest, a dog agility course and live music. $20; $50 for families of four with no more than two members ages 18 or older. Events kick off at 11 a.m. Sept. 23. Sylvan Theater, 15th Street and Independence Avenue SW, near the Washington Monument. Call 202-676-2396 or visit to register.

[ FOR FAMILIES ] Black Family Reunion Returns The massive reunion, founded by civil rights leader Dorothy Height, fills the Mall next month with pavilions celebrating black cultural contributions, and offering chances to network, eat or just get together and picnic. Every year also brings national music acts: This year, they include the 1990s girl-group sensation En Vogue. Free. Sept. 8-9. The Mall between Seventh and 14th streets NW. 202-737-0120.

[ LECTURES] I Was Friends With One of America's Most Notorious Spies That's just one of the shockers you'll hear from retired FBI supervisory special agent David G. Major, who'll give a talk in November at the International Spy Museum that will effectively dissect his relationship with former FBI agent and spy Robert Hanssen, whom he worked with for nearly 15 years. Major, who is on the museum's board, will offer his take on counterintelligence, Hanssen and what motivated the spy. $23; members, $18. Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW. For tickets, call 202-397-7328; for information, 202-393-7798.

The District

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