Little Rock to mark desegregation battle

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A new visitors center will be ready for the 50th anniversary of the desegregation battle at Central High School in Little Rock.

Central High was the nation's first major battleground for school desegregation after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that black children were entitled to the same education as whites. For three weeks in September 1957, Gov. Orval E. Faubus blocked nine black students from enrolling at all-white Central High, forcing a historic confrontation between state and federal authorities over integration.

A small visitors center nearby, operated by the National Parks Service, tells the story of the fight to integrate the school.

But the new center -- which is under construction and scheduled to open in the spring of 2007 -- will have more exhibits and information about the landmark civil rights case. Other commemorative events are planned for September 2007. For more information, go to and click on "Central High School 50th Anniversary."

Little Rock has become an increasingly popular tourist destination following the 2004 opening of the Clinton Presidential Center. Another new attraction under construction is a nature center on the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock, not far from the Clinton Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Museum of Discovery.

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