In 1957, three years after the Supreme Court announced its decision in Brown v. Broad of Education to outlaw segregated schools, there still weren't any classrooms in the Deep South where blacks and whites sat together . Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas was one of the South's finest public schools and had more than 2,000 students. But not one black child had ever gone to Central High when a modest experiment in integration was about to begin. Melba Pattillo wanted to go to Central High. She wrote, "I understood education before I understood anything else. From the time I was two, my mother said, 'Education is your key to survival.' "
Fifteen-year-old Melba Pattillo had no "overwhelming desire to change history." She just wanted to go to a good school, and she was one of nine black children picked to integrate Central High . She didn't expect problems. Neither did most people. But some citizens were determined to fight integration. And local lawmakers, who could have helped the situation, didn't. Arkansas's governor, Orval Faubus , vowed he would keep the nine Little Rock students out of Central High. Faubus knew that backing integration would hurt him amongst white voters, but opposing it wouldn't hurt him at all, because blacks couldn't vote in his state. That's why he called in the Arkansas militia.