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In September 1957, Governor Orval Faubus dispatched Arkansas National Guard troops to prevent black students from entering Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Eisenhower Administration responded by sending Justice Department lawyers to enter school desegregation litigation brought by the NAACP that was already pending before the U.S. District Court in Arkansas. The court granted the preliminary injunction sought by the Justice Department and the NAACP, holding that federal law preempted state interference with school integration. A few weeks later, in the face of local resistance edged with hatred and violence, President Eisenhower ordered the famous 101st Airborne to Arkansas to maintain order and safeguard the black school children. The court's injunction was upheld on appeal, and Central High was eventually desegregated. The most important legacy of the conflict, however, may have been the images from the streets of Little Rock–striking photographs of tense black students, sturdy federal troops, and a surging, spitting crowd of white protesters.

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