Publication Date



In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The Brown decision followed over two decades of efforts to overturn the “separate but equal” legal doctrine that had prevailed since the Supreme Court’s 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson decision. In 1955, the court called for the process of desegregating schools to begin “with all deliberate speed.” However, since the Brown II decision left the implementation of the desegregation process to local school boards, it soon became clear that white Southerners were less interested in complying with the Brown decision than rallying behind the call for “Massive Resistance” to desegregation. In but one example of Massive Resistance, nineteen Senators and eighty-two Congressional Representatives from the Southern States signed the 1956 “Southern Manifesto,” which dismissed the Brown decision as an unconstitutional act inspired by outside agitators.

On September 4, 1957, the plans of nine African American students in Little Rock, Arkansas to attend the first day of classes at Little Rock’s Central High School were thwarted by Governor Orval Faubus’s decision to send the Arkansas National Guard to the school to prevent the African American students from entering. In this document, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Attorney General Brownell discuss the emerging situation in Little Rock. -M.Loayza, Minnesota State University, Mankato


Karen Anderson, Little Rock: Race and Resistance at Central High School (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010)

Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000)

Michael L. Krenn, Black Diplomacy: African Americans and the State Department, 1945-1969 (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2015)