How Little Rock Integration is Represented in Media: A Review 65 Years Later


Asher Simmons

Cover art for the 65th commemorative issue of our schools’ integration. Pick up your copy on the news stand, in the library, the office, or the newsroom. Art by Asher Simmons

“The Ernest Green Story,” a made-for-TV movie, follows the story of the Little Rock Central High integration crisis through the eyes of Ernest Green, one of the nine Black students who first attempted to enter the school in 1957. Although originally made for the Disney Channel, this is a high-quality movie that paints a brutal picture of what it was truly like during this historic event. From being denied access to Quigley Field, to being relentlessly tormented by their classmates, the horrors come to light. Another strong suit of this film is that it was shot on location at the school. That alone helps build the authenticity of the entire production.

I would strongly recommend this picture as it offers a unique perspective to the integration crisis. We don’t often see the story of the Little Rock Nine told through one of the member’s eyes, so it’s nice to see it from his perspective. You can find this movie for free on Youtube.


My favorite piece of media related to the Little Rock Nine is the HBO documentary “Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later.” This film opens up on Minnijean Brown-Trickey as she walks around Central’s campus recalling the deep, emotional scars that the crisis caused. As the special goes on, it explores the changes, or lack thereof, that Central underwent in the 50 years since the integration process began. I love the unique angle that filmmakers Brent and Craig Renaud decided to take. Footage from the integration of 1957 is directly compared to footage from 2007, and the separation between both the Black and white students is clearly highlighted in both. It’s crazy to me that even after 50 years that Central, to quote a statement from one of the teachers featured in the 2007 film, “is still a Black and white school.” Fifteen years after the documentary first aired, sure strides have been made here to encourage diversity, it’s my observation that Central is still not fully integrated. I strongly encourage everyone, especially Central students, to watch this. You can find this film streaming on HBO Max and any online site where you can rent and buy movies.


Another piece of media that offers a unique perspective on the integration of 1957 is “Fire From the Rock” a historical fiction book written by Sharon Draper. Instead of focusing on any of the Nine themselves, the story follows Sylvia Patterson, an eighth grader who is selected to integrate with Central in the fall of 1957. This book follows the internal struggles that Sylvia deals with. Does she risk endangering her life as well as her family’s and integrate Central? Or does she continue with her regular life and stay safe? I personally thought this was an incredible read and strongly recommend everyone to check it out. My favorite aspect of this book was Sylvia’s character development throughout. I’m a sucker for anything in that genre, so I was ecstatic to learn that this novel was written. Much like “The Ernest Green Story,” this was made with a younger audience in mind, but that doesn’t stop it from telling the full and complete story of the horrors the Nine faced.  Check it from the school library or find this book on Amazon as well as various in-person and online bookstores.