This Day in Black History: May 27, 1958

Ernest Green of the "Little Rock Nine" becomes the first Black graduate of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Posted: 05/27/2014 12:00 AM EDT

Ernest Gideon Green became the first Black graduate of the newly desegregated Central High School in Pulaski County of Little Rock, Arkansas on May 27, 1958.

Green was a member of the “Little Rock Nine,” a pioneering group of Black students who were the first to integrate Central High following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education that declared laws requiring segregation in public schools illegal. Although the decision was handed down in 1954, fear and intimidation kept many Blacks away from all-white high schools in Pulaski County until 1957 when nine Black students enrolled and courageously entered the school guarded by federal troops while taunted by aggressive white mobs.

After graduating from Central, Green went on to attend Michigan State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in social science in 1962 and a Master of Arts in sociology in 1964. In 1977, Green was appointed as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs by President Jimmy Carter. He went on to work as managing director of public finance at the investment banking firm, Lehman Brothers, in Washington DC.

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(Photo: Courtesy Arkansas History Commission)

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