Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

#1 in Best Things To Do in Little Rock
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Courtesy of Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau

Key Info

2120 W. Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive

Price & Hours

Free
9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily

Details

Museums, Free, Tours, Monuments and Memorials Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 2.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

In 1957, nine Black students enrolled at Little Rock Central High School. The school had been all-white since its construction in 1927. Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Pattillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Wells were the first Black students at the school following the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional. The day the students went to school, they were met with a racist mob of white students as well as about 270 soldiers who barred the entrance to the high school. It took almost two weeks before the Little Rock Nine were able to access the building. Though they were able to enter the school, they faced physical and verbal abuse throughout their high school careers. The Little Rock Nine's historic and brave acts helped to spur the civil rights movement and brought national attention to the U.S.'s racist practices.

Today, Little Rock Central High School is a National Historic Site and is still a working high school. The associated visitor center sits kitty-corner to the school and features exhibits about the desegregation crisis as well as a book store. There is also a Commemorative Garden. Tours of the exterior and interior of Little Rock Central High School are also available, but must be reserved in advance through the National Park Service.

Before or after your visit, be sure to explore Central High's Civil Rights Memory Project. Students at the high school are tasked with interviewing a family member or friend about their experiences with desegregation, racism and human rights. Students then write essays about their interviews and explain the stories. The essays are then shared on the Memory Project website to preserve the narratives and share the stories with everyone.

Previous travelers overwhelmingly agreed the school is a must-see during a Little Rock visit. They praised the school's beautiful architecture. Additionally, they recommended taking a guided tour for a more well-rounded experience. They warned, however, that if school is in session, tours may not go inside the building.

The Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and is free to visit. If there is inclement weather or if the school closes, the visitor center may close as well. Be sure to check hours before you go. Free ranger-led tours are available daily as well, but must be reserved in advance. Know, too, that guided trips to the school's interior are available on select weekdays and not available on the weekends. The site is located 2 miles west of Rock Town Distillery. Visit the NPS website for more details.

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In addition to strenuous outdoor fun, visitors can take it easy at the on-site picnic area that features restrooms, a playground and a vending machine. It is also the start of a few trailheads as well as the site of the park's boat launch. Travelers can also check out the visitor center that has permanent exhibits about the park's wildlife and ecology, as well as restrooms, a gift shop and a wildlife viewing area. An arboretum and garden are also on-site for visitor enjoyment.

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