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TheatreEspresso is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. © Copyright 2008-2019 Theatre Espresso. All Rights Reserved.

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nine who dared: crisis in little rock

Setting

On September 4, 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered the National Guard to prevent nine African American students from enrolling in previously all white Central High School. Legal experts agreed that Faubus, by using the armed forces of a state to oppose the federal government, had launched the most critical challenge to the Constitution since the Civil War. Once enrolled, the nine students faced daily harassment, but were trained not to react to the barrage of insults and abuse. After months of being tormented, one of the students, Minnijean Brown, decided to fight back and was expelled from school. Members of the community were conflicted about what to do next. For some, the cost of school desegregation was too high; for the safety of the students and the greater community, they sought to postpone integration of the schools. Others strongly believed that the students must stay in school, no matter what sacrifices had to be made. 

What is the effect of racial segregation on society?

What kinds of sacrifices do those who dare to confront systematic discrimination make?

How can civic engagement help to challenge social injustice?

THEMES
  • Racial discrimination

  • Civil rights

  • Systemic racism

  • “separate but equal”

  • Doctrine of nonviolence

  • Tension between federal law and states’ rights

  • Putting safety at risk for a cause

  • Responsibility of bystanders

historical connections
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

  • Integration of Central High School in Little Rock

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP]

  • Court ordered desegregation

  • Use of the Arkansas National Guard

  • Deployment of 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock

  • Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik

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