Facing a tough reelection campaign in 1957, Arkansas governor Orval Faubus decides to capitalize on the Brown controversy by defying the federal court order to desegregate public schools. Faubus positions Arkansas National Guardsmen outside Central High School in Little Rock to prevent nine black students from entering. He then organizes an angry white mob outside the school to protest integration and attack black reporters.
Although Eisenhower himself opposes integration, Faubus's decision to challenge federal authority forces the president to intervene on behalf of the students and end the Little Rock crisis. Eisenhower places the National Guard under federal authority and sends 1,000 U.S. Army troops to disband the mob and escort the students to class. Still defiant, Faubus closes all public schools in the city for the remainder of the year to prevent "disorder."
On Monday, February 1, 1960, four black students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro sit down at the whites-only counter at a local Woolworth's and order lunch.
The clerk refuses to serve them, but the four men remain sitting at the counter until the store closes. The men returned the following day with more than a dozen fellow black students and again remain quietly at the counter until the store closes.
By the end of the week, hundreds of black students and even several white students are waiting patiently for service in Woolworth's, with several hundred more at other restaurants in Greensboro. Although the students temporarily disband to negotiate a settlement, the Greensboro sit-in resume the following spring when local business leaders refuse to cave in to the protesters' demands. Blacks continued to boycott segregationist stores such as Woolworth's until the desperate merchants finally concede that summer.
In 1960, for example, police arrested nearly a hundred peaceful student protesters at Atlanta University.