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Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)

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General Dwight D. Eisenhower in a limousine at Washington National Airport.

Former general Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president in 1952 and held office during the years when the civil rights movement achieved its first milestones. When President Eisenhower first heard the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision, he worried that school integration would lead to social disintegration. However, Eisenhower was keenly aware of the importance of the race question for the international image of America in the midst of a Cold War against Soviet Communism. Highly publicized lynchings and the murder of Emmett Till were internationally embarrassing, as was the Little Rock crisis.

Despite his reservations about the Warren Court's decision in Brown, when Arkansas governor Orval Faubus defied federal court orders and summoned the National Guard to prevent the black students dubbed the "Little Rock Nine" from integrating the city's Central High School, Eisenhower ordered federal paratroopers in to safeguard the students. "Mob rule," he said in a televised address, "cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts."

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