In The Washington Post, Kevin Boyle has a review of Carlotta Walls LaNier’s memoir of the Little Rock 9, the small group of negro students who led the integration of Central High School in Little Rock back in 1957. President Eisenhower famously sent the 101 Airborne Division into Arkansas to force integration on the school. Little Rock was one of the first major showdowns on the Civil Rights Movement. It was a scene of many famous photo ops, video reels, and soundbytes: mobs of angry White people waving Confederate flags and trying to save their school from clueless liberals and government oppression.
In 2007, HBO produced a documentary called Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later. I got the chance to watch it a few weeks ago. The neighborhoods that surround Central High School were abandoned by White property owners and have since degenerated into a crime infested black ghetto. Like Detroit, it looks like a neutron bomb went off and “tore up the community.” The hated racial gap in average test scores – the whole rationale for desegregation – stubbornly remains. In the words of a black teacher, “the gap should be closing, but it doesn’t appear that it is.”
Who could have ever predicted that?