The Lost Year

In the year following the Central High Crisis, Arkansas governor Orval Faubus signed into law legislation that would close all of the public high schools in Little Rock. More than 3,500 students—black and white—were locked out of public education, while almost 200 teachers and administrators were locked in under contract to serve empty classrooms.

Families were torn apart as teenage students moved away to attend schools in other towns or, in some cases, other states. Some studied to enter college early. Some took correspondence courses. Some simply abandoned school and went to work, or joined the military. Race was, predictably, a factor in the ways different students fared: 93 percent of white students found alternative schooling, while only 50 percent of black students were able to do the same.

The Lost Year was a time of great unrest for citizens of Little Rock. Families were in turmoil and communities were divided as the members of the School Board changed again and again, state legislators passed laws targeting members of the NAACP, and teachers were fired under suspicion of supporting integration.

The Little Rock Desegregation Crisis did not begin and end with Central High alone.

In the documentary film The Lost Year, the recollections of students and teachers who lived through this tumultuous time are interspersed with narration explaining the history and politics of the year to bring this previously untold story to vivid life.

The Lost Year is just one component of The Lost Year Project, which comprises a web site, the film, and a book. To learn more about the project, and about this fascinating and unexplored year in Arkansas history, visit The Lost Year Project.

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