John Kirk to reflect on 60th anniversary of desegregation of Central High School

Dr. John Kirk

Dr. John Kirk, director of the Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will present a lecture on the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High School as part of the Evenings with History series. 

The talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. Third St. in Little Rock, with refreshments served at 7 p.m.

Sixty years have passed since the dramatic events surrounding the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High School, which led to President Dwight D. Eisenhower deploying federal troops to ensure the safety of nine black students, known as the Little Rock Nine.

Kirk’s talk reflects on how the events have been depicted by historians within the context of the broader Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It also explores how popular culture representations of the school crisis have influenced and shaped intellectual debate in theatre, film, essays, poetry, and music.

Additionally, the lecture will examine how different approaches to the school crisis by historians from local, state, regional, national, and international perspectives have produced different understandings of the events that unfolded in the city.

“In many ways, the historiography of the 1957 Little Rock school crisis provides a microcosm of the wider trends that have shaped historical representations of the Civil Rights movement,” Kirk said.

The Evenings with History series, sponsored by the University History Institute, features presentations by UA Little Rock faculty members sharing their current research. Admission to the series is by subscription to the University History Institute, although visitors to individual talks are welcome to attend for free. UA Little Rock students may attend free of charge.

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