Little Rock Central High School

We don’t often tend to think of high schools as places of historical import; but in general, they absolutely are. Students, after all, can often play a key role in shaping their socio-political landscape.

It’s at Little Rock Central High School, the only operational high school designated a National Historic Site, that one truly has the opportunity to learn how tremendously important a seemingly ordinary high school can be in the history of a nation.

First built in 1927, Little Rock Central High School is best known for being at the centre of the tremendous racial turmoil that shook the US in the mid-20th century. After the historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka of 1957, racial segregation in schools was declared unconstitutional. Nine African-American students, who would come to be known as the Little Rock Nine, would be the first non-white students to attend the school after the desegregation; and despite facing discrimination from fellow students and enduring efforts by members of the local government to keep them out of the school, the Little Rock Nine have become icons of African-American history.

At the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, visitors can immerse themselves in the inspiring history of this school where racial barriers were broken for the first time in the country’s history. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the school’s beautiful Gothic Revival building and the lush park surrounding it while experts outline the school’s inspiring history.

Of course, properly planning out one’s visit is necessary – the school is still in use by students, after all, and tours have to be carefully planned around the class schedules in order to avoid disrupting lessons. As a result, tours are only held at certain hours on certain weekdays, and need to be booked at least two days in advance. For this reason, a Little Rock trip that includes a stopover at the Central High School needs to be carefully planned out and worked into one’s schedule well ahead of time – but as any past visitor can testify, it’s well worth it to immerse oneself in the story of the Little Rock Nine, a tale of hope and defied odds that resonated across the nation.

Inextricably tied to the tumultuous history of segregation-era America, Little Rock Central High School has long since stood as a monument to unification and the overcoming of prejudice. It’s a moving and essential piece of Arkansas history, and really, your Little Rock experience isn’t complete without paying it a visit.

Looking for more fun in Little Rock, stop by the Little Rock Zoo!