On the fiftieth anniversary of the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, AR, the United States Mint introduced commemorative coin in 2007. These 500,000 silver dollars recognize and pay tribute to the strength, the determination and the courage displayed by African-American high school students in the fall of 1957. In the landmark 1954 decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the United States Supreme Court declared racial segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. The events in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, was an important step in the country’s quest for racial equality in public education. So important was the successful integration of this school to the American Civil Rights movement that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. personally attended the 1958 commencement for the school’s first African American graduate. The obverse of this coin features a simple, yet powerful design depicting students, accompanied by an armed United States soldier, walking to school. The design includes nine stars, each symbolic of those who faced violence and hatred of a segregated society unwilling to live by the words of its most important declaration, that “all men are created equal.” The reverse design for the Little Rock Central High School Desegregation Silver Dollar depicts the image of the school circa 1957. The school was designated a National Historic Site in 1998. The U.S. Treasury says that the monies “collected through the sale of these coins are authorized to be paid to the Secretary of the Interior for the protection, preservation, and interpretation of resources and stories associated with Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, including site improvements at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, development of interpretive and education programs and historic preservation projects, and the establishment of cooperative agreements to preserve or restore the historic character of the Park Street and Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive corridors adjacent to the site.”
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