Sept. 24, 1957

In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a bill designating Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, a national historic site. He also awarded Congressional Medals to the Little Rock Nine. Credit: White House photo

Nine Black students were blocked from entering Arkansas’ Central High school on the orders of Gov. Orval Faubus. The next day, despite threats, the students walked into the school, escorted by the 101st Airborne Division. Despite a year of violent threats, several of the “Little Rock Nine” managed to graduate from Central High. 

In 1999, the nine – Melba Pattillo Beals, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Carolotta Walls Lanier, Terence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, Minnijean Brown Trickey and Thelma Mothershed Wair – received the Congressional Gold Medal, honoring them and their courage. On the 60th anniversary, an opera in progress titled “Little Rock Nine” was unveiled. 

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.