CRISIS AT CENTRAL HIGH: Little Rock, 1957-58 by Elizabeth Huckaby

CRISIS AT CENTRAL HIGH: Little Rock, 1957-58

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Elizabeth Huckaby, for 28 years a teacher at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was Vice-Principal for Girls in 1957-58 when nine black students enrolled. This is her account of what happened from day to day during that momentous school year. Initial plans for orderly integration were foiled when Governor Orville Faubus called out the National Guard to maintain segregation, and Eisenhower dispatched the 101st Airborne to get the Little Rock Nine into school. Huckaby's description of these headline events dwindles into a gloomy chronicle of daily cruelty within the school: black students are mocked, pushed downstairs, spat upon; their lockers are broken into, their books stolen, their clothing spattered with ink. In class they are pelted with paper wads, in the cafeteria drenched with soup, everywhere watched by guards; and through it all they are befriended, bolstered, and lectured by Mrs. Huckaby (the newspapers called her ""prim""), whose dutifulness leads her into courage. At Christmas assemblies segregationist students (a loud minority of whites) carol ""I'm dreaming of a white Central,"" and their subversion brings the expulsion, for safety's sake, of one black student. At the end of the year, one black student graduates in tense ceremonies. Huckaby is often more concerned with her own righteous victories than with the incredible valor of the Nine, but today, with Central High half black, her account of the painful beginnings of integration is a straightforward and valuable, if dismal, historical record.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1980
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press