Interview with Ernest Green


Ernest Green:

Well I wasn't—any trouble expected. I think given, given the fact that uh… uh there had been other schools in Arkansas That had, that had been integrated. Fort Smith, Arkansas and some others, the buses in Little Rock had been desegregated without any problems. The library and the uh… university the medical and uh and the uh law school had admitted some blacks. So it was an expectation that there would be problems minimally, uh, nothing of a major cause celebre that would put Little Rock on the map uh, as it occurred. And only, the first inclination we had of it, that I had of it, maybe some other folks and may—maybe Daisy and some others were aware of it, but uh, the night before we were, we were to go to school, as the Labor Day, Monday night schools traditionally started in Little Rock the Tuesday after Labor Day. Uh, Faubus came on T.V. and indicated that he was calling out the National Guard to prevent our entrance into Central because of uh, what he thought were threats to our lives. He was doing it for our own protection [laughter]. Even at that time that was his uh, that was his line. And uh, that the troops would be out in front of the school and they would bar our entrance. Uh, to uh, to Central. For our protection as well as for the protection and tranquility of the, of the city. So only that Monday night that I know that I wasn't going to be able to go to school the next morning. Now, that night also uh… uh, Daisy called us all up and told us that we were going to go to school as a group uh, and to arrange to meet at her house and there were a number of ministers uh, that uh, I was not aware of but and had been involved in trying to lay a groundwork to have uh… this, the integration of the schools reasonably accepted. Uh…by the people in the, in the city. So that morning, eight of us gathered at uh, Daisy's house, Elizabeth wasn't there. And uh, we went by car to Central, to the corner of 14th Street and Park. Uh… it was about eight o'clock that morning. And we made an attempt to go though the troops and uh, were denied uh, access to the front of the school. And uh, we went home after that. Elizabeth had missed the call uh, she didn't have a phone I think. And that morning she was at the other end, two blocks down 16th, where there was nobody, no supporters at least, none of the ministers, none of the people that uh, had helped us uh, uh, provide transportation up to the school and that she was down there facing the mob by herself. None of us knew that until we got home uh, after school. So that was the first day uh, at Central. And then we were out of school for three weeks after that. While the litigation between the uh, the state and the federal government and finally uh, it was the day after my birthday, I think it was the 23rd of September, uh we went to school after they finally withdrew the National Guard. This is before the troops came. And uh, we stayed in school only a half a day, because again we were unaware that there was a mob outside the school and that was about to break through the uh, police barriers. So, about noon that way we uh, went home again uh, and looked at the footage uh, on uh, on T.V. It looked a lot more frightening watching it on T.V. than uh, what we were experiencing inside the school. Uh, we stayed out a day and a half after that. And then the morning after, Eisenhower sent a thousand paratroopers to Little Rock and the next morning we went to school with the assistance of the 101st Airborne Division.