Clinton Digital Library

"Not There Yet"

President Clinton's above quote on the 1957 desegregation of Central High Crisis affirms that the story of desegregation in Little Rock did not end with the 1957-1958 school year. Over the summer of 1958, the Little Rock school district petitioned and was initially granted the ability to delay desegregation in Cooper v. Aaron.  However, the United States Supreme Court overturned the ruling on appeal and ordered the school district to proceed with desegregation. In response, Governor Faubus ordered all of the secondary schools in the Little Rock school district closed on September 12, 1958, ushering in a period known as “The Lost Year.”

The Women's Emergency Committee

Four days after Governor Faubus ordered all the secondary schools closed, a group of middle to upper-class white women formed the Women’s Emergency Committee (WEC) to Save Our Schools.  Throughout 1958 and 1959, the WEC worked with the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women to force the reopening of the high schools.  The WEC directly appealed to Governor Faubus to reopen the schools. After a mass layoff of 44 teacher and administrators who supported integration, the WEC and local businessmen formed Stop This Outrageous Purge (STOP) and forced the recall of the segregationist members of the Little Rock School board, replacing them with more moderate members. The schools reopened nearly a month early for the next school year on August 12, 1959. Further information about the WEC is also available at Central High School National Historic Site.

WEC and the Lost Year (NPS)

WEC pamphlet (NPS)

In October 1998, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton met with members of the Women’s Emergency Committee in Little Rock. Speechwriter Jeff Shesol had a hand in crafting her remarks.

One America

True to the theme of his remarks, President Clinton was committed to increasing the nation's understanding of the history and future of race relations. President Clinton appointed a seven member Advisory Board on Race to reach out and engage the public in this mission. The Advisory Board submitted their report, "One America in the 21st Century: Forging a New Future," to the President in 1998. The records of the Advisory Board on Race are not yet digitized but are available for research at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. View Advisory Board On Race Collection Finding Aids.