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Central High Marks 50 Years of Desegregation

Fifty years ago President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the nation from his desk in the Oval Office. A mob — backed by the Arkansas National Guard — had blocked nine black students from entering an all-white high school in Little Rock. President Eisenhower decided that he had to act.

"The responsibility is inescapable. In accordance with that responsibility, I have today issued an executive order directing the use of troops under federal authority to aid in the execution of federal law at Little Rock, Arkansas," he said.

And so, some 1,000 troops from the 101st Airborne Division deployed to Little Rock. President Eisenhower said they would escort the teenagers to school.

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Juan Williams
Juan Williams, one of America's leading journalists, is a news analyst, appearing regularly on NPR's Morning Edition. Knowledgeable and charismatic, Williams brings insight and depth — hallmarks of NPR programs — to a wide spectrum of issues and ideas.