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Kirk to Give Talk on Little Rock Nine at Eisenhower Presidential Library

Dr. John Kirk
Dr. John Kirk

Dr. John Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History at UA Little Rock, will give a virtual presentation on the Little Rock Nine at the Dwight D. Eisenhower President Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home on Tuesday, June 13.

In his talk, “Difficult Decisions: The Little Rock 9,” Kirk will discuss the nine teenagers who were the central figures in the 1957 school desegregation crisis at Little Rock’s Central High School.

In September 1957,  Gov. Orval Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround Central High School to prevent the nine students from entering. President Eisenhower later ordered the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to make sure that the students could attend school.

The Little Rock Nine collectively faced a number of difficult decisions. In the first instance, they decided to attend an historically white school and break down the barriers of segregation. After desegregation, they decided to stay at Central High despite experiencing extreme provocation and intimidation from white students.

It was the Little Rock Nine’s determination to stay the course that forced the hands of the federal courts and President Eisenhower to take action in response.

Kirk is an expert on the civil rights movement and has published 10 books. His works include Beyond Little Rock: The Origins and Legacies of the Central High Crisis and The Civil Rights Movement: A Documentary Reader.

The 2023 program series is made possible courtesy of the Eisenhower Foundation with generous support from the Jeffcoat Memorial Foundation.

Kirk’s talk will begin at 7 p.m. June 13. The event will be shown in the inner courtyard of the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, and virtually via YouTube.