|"Gov Faubus Save Our Christian America"|
As Richard Kreitner reminds us at The Nation today, on this day in 1958 in my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, the governor of Arkansas Orval Faubus called out the national guard to prevent the integration of our city's white Central High School after the Supreme Court found, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954, that segregation of public schools violated the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Governor Faubus's defiance was cheered by crowds who gathered at Central High and on the steps of the Arkansas state capitol, many of them carrying signs announcing that God forbids the mixing of the races and that integration was an attack on the Christian values on which this nation had been built. The defiance of Faubus (which was quickly matched by a decision of the Republican president Dwight Eisenhower to send in federal troops to protect the black students integrating the high school) sparked similar acts of defiance across the South, from George Wallace's standing on the steps of the University of Alabama and announcing that segregation would go on forever, to the opening of church-based schools all across the South to undercut public school integration.
And with more signs sharing more messages from God about how the mongrelization of the races was abhorrent to Him (the God of segregationists is and always has been male), more signs decrying the attack of the Supreme Court and the federal government on the Christian values on which the nation was ostensibly founded . . . .
Some people learn very little from history and futile gestures of defiance as the moral arc of history moves in the direction of extending rights to minority groups previously denied rights.