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(1958) Orval E. Faubus, “Speech on School Integration”

In September 1957 Arkansas Democratic Governor Orval E. Faubus became the national symbol of racial segregation when he used Arkansas National Guardsmen to block the enrollment of nine black students who had been ordered by a federal judge to desegregate Little Rocks Central High School.  His action created a national crisis with President Dwight D. Eisenhower finally ordering federal troops to Little Rock to ensure the judges order was obeyed, to protect the black students, and maintain order for the remainder of the school year.  In the speech below Faubus defends his actions and calls for continued resistance to racial integration and what he calls an all-powerful, intrusive federal government.

Those who would integrate our schools at any price are still among us. They have seized upon the present situation to promote and foment concern and discontent, because of the temporary closing of the schools. They have spread wild rumors and attempted to organize demonstrations. These are the same people and the same forces who have all along been opposed to the majority will of the people of Little Rock and Arkansas….

Last year, I stated during the September crisis that I was not elected Governor of Arkansas to surrender all our rights as citizens to an all-powerful federal autocracy…. It is my responsibility, and it is my purpose and determination, to defend the constitutional rights of the people of Arkansas to the full extent of my ability.…

I am fully aware of the deep concern of the parents for the continued proper education of their children, and I am fully aware of the inconvenience to the students in the interruption of the proper educational processes. To them, both parents and students, I express my sympathy and understanding.

To the students who are concerned, I say that in the years to follow, when you have come to realize the importance of maintaining our form of government, and the importance of preserving the great freedoms and privileges which we have known, you will be happy and proud to remember

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