Electronic Theses and Dissertations




Shawn Fisher



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Aram Goudsouzian


In 1957, Governor Orval Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High. In response, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent elements of the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to ensure that nine black students could attend the school unmolested by a riotous mob. The Little Rock crisis is usually studied as a landmark event in the civil rights movement, but it can be further examined as key event in the Cold War, which illuminates several interesting aspects of the crisis. First, it reveals the background of the segregated Arkansas National Guard and the newly-integrated 101st immediately before the Little Rock mission. Second, the plans, orders, and actions taken in the name of enforcing court orders can position the Little Rock mission as the Army viewed it – as a test of military readiness and military strategy. Finally, a focus on the soldiers themselves reveals how and why they performed their duty, and how they reconciled their identity with their military service during the integration crisis. Southerners in uniform followed orders for a number of reasons – professionalism, a Cold War ethos, and because their duty “protected” white society from a variety of threats, such as violent Klansmen, the Red Menace, federal interlopers, segregationist teenagers, and violations of Southern social taboos. By “protecting” the entire South, white and black, and the soldiers defended concepts of paternalism and white sovereignty even as they protected black activists and established a pattern of action which ultimately advanced the cause of racial justice.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.