The year was 1957. Just three years prior, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board that segregation in public schools was in fact unconstitutional. During the summer of 1957, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls (collectively known as the Little Rock Nine) agreed to be the first African-American students to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The concept was simple. With Daisy Gaston Bates, president of the Arkansas NAACP, leading the recruitment efforts, Central High School would become an integrated public school in September 1957, though it wasn’t an easy task. On the first day of classes, the “Little Rock Nine” were met by angry protesters and the Arkansas National Guard who was ordered by Gov. Orval Faubus to refuse entry to the black students.
While chaos at Central High ensued and President Dwight D. Eisenhower debated his plan of action, a young black man by the name of Maurice Horton was completing his final semester as a mathematics student at Henderson State Teachers College, about an hour south of Little Rock in Arkadelphia.
In 1955, two years before the Supreme Court made its unanimous decision, Horton transferred from Arkansas AM&N College to become a full-time student at Henderson, only 10 miles away from his hometown of Curtis. Rather than being met with guards and protesters, Horton and the other black students on campus were able to attend college events and roam around campus as they pleased.
However, eating in the cafeteria was not one of those privileges. In 1957, Horton graduated from Henderson becoming the first African-American student to graduate from the college and one of the first African-Americans to graduate from a white institution in the South. [Read more…] about Horton was Henderson’s first African-American graduate