The surviving members of the historic “Little Rock Nine,” a group of Black students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957, are criticizing the Arkansas Department of Education’s limitations on an Advanced Placement African American Studies course.
Although the state isn’t prohibiting students from enrolling, it has warned that the coursework may not count toward graduation requirements due to uncertainties regarding the course’s alignment with a state law against teaching critical race theory or CRT.
Elizabeth Eckford, a member of the Little Rock Nine 66 years ago, saw recent changes made by the state’s Department of Education as an attempt to change history. “I think the attempts to erase history is working for the Republican Party,” Eckford. “They have some boogeymen that are really popular with their supporters.”
Arkansas’ defiance of a court order that prevented Eckford (known for her iconic shades as a teenager) and her peers from entering Little Rock Central High School led then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower to send federal troops to escort the group.
The Arkansas Department of Education defended its stance, asserting that the course’s compatibility with state law needs to be established before proceeding. While the state currently offers an African American history course, the new AP course focuses on a broader range of topics.