Due to inclement weather, the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton has postponed its speakers for Black History Month, Elizabeth Eckford and Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton. The pair has been rescheduled to speak at a free event on Feb. 28 at 6:00 p.m. at the UACCM Fine Arts Auditorium.

In the early 1950s, Arkansas was one of 13 states with segregated schools, preventing black and white children from attending the same school. The start of integration in the South began when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 1952 on the grounds that school segregation was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court denied this appeal claiming that segregation was constitutional as long as schools were “separate but equal.” For two years, the NAACP provided the court with information to prove that the schools were not equal, and in 1954, the court ruled in their favor. Some of the 13 states began desegregation, but others, like Arkansas, made few changes.

On Sept. 4, 1957, Elizabeth Eckford was one of nine African-American students, known as the Little Rock Nine, who attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School, a school that until then only accepted white students. Eight of the students arrived together to a side door of the school, but Eckford, who hadn’t received the message, bravely approached the school alone among a crowd of hundreds of angry protestors. The school was surrounded by members of the National Guard preventing Eckford and the others to enter. The National Guard was ordered by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus who claimed that “blood will run in the streets” if the students attempted to enter the school.

Three weeks later on Sept. 25, President Dwight Eisenhower sent more than 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army to let the Little Rock Nine attend Central High. The students were finally let into the school, but troops remained at Central High for the rest of the year.

In September 1958, Governor Faubus closed Little Rock’s high schools for one year based on a popular vote by citizens to prevent integration. But in 1959, federal courts ruled the closing of Little Rock schools unconstitutional, forcing them to reopen on August 12. Four of the Little Rock Nine returned with a handful of other African-American students, Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton among them. Hampton was the first black student to graduate after attending all grades at Central High School. In spite of these efforts toward integration, all Little Rock schools were not fully integrated until 1972.

Eckford and Hampton will share their tales of enduring hardships and acts of hatred during their time at Central High School as they speak at UACCM. The community is invited to attend this free event to celebrate Black History Month and honor those who took strides to enforce equality among all people during the Civil Rights Movement.

For more information about this event, contact Courtney Stell by phone at 501-977-2142 or by email to


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