The Role of Mediation in Little Rock’s Conflict Resolution

Little Rock Conflict Resolution: A Historical and Modern Perspective


The Little Rock conflict, centered around the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, during the late 1950s, stands as a pivotal moment in the American Civil Rights Movement. The resolution of this conflict required courageous leadership, judicial intervention, and community efforts. Examining both historical and contemporary approaches to conflict resolution in Little Rock provides valuable insights into the enduring struggle for civil rights and social justice.

Historical Background

In 1957, following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional, Little Rock became a focal point of national attention. Nine African American students, later known as the Little Rock Nine, were selected to integrate Central High School. Their attempt to attend the school was met with vehement opposition, including violent mobs and resistance from Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, who deployed the National Guard to block their entry.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

  1. Federal Intervention: President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s decision to intervene was crucial. He federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent the 101st Airborne Division to enforce the students’ right to attend Central High School. This demonstrated the federal government’s commitment to upholding the Constitution and protecting civil rights, setting a precedent for federal involvement in desegregation efforts.
  2. Judicial Action: The courts played a significant role in resolving the Little Rock conflict. Federal Judge Ronald Davies issued an order to proceed with the desegregation plan, countering Governor Faubus’s obstructionist tactics. Continuous legal battles reinforced the principle that court orders must be respected and that obstruction of justice would not be tolerated.
  3. Community Support and Resistance: Local support for the Little Rock Nine came from various community leaders and organizations, including the NAACP, which provided legal and moral support. However, the resistance from parts of the community showcased the deep-seated racial tensions and the need for ongoing dialogue and reconciliation.

Modern Approaches to Conflict Resolution

In the years since the Little Rock crisis, the city Little Rock conflict resolution has evolved, employing various modern conflict resolution techniques to address ongoing racial and social issues.

  1. Education and Awareness: Programs aimed at educating the community about the historical significance of the Little Rock Nine and the broader civil rights movement have been pivotal. These initiatives foster a better understanding of past injustices and promote empathy and solidarity among younger generations.
  2. Dialogue and Mediation: Establishing forums for open dialogue between different community groups has been essential. Mediation efforts led by local leaders and organizations help address contemporary issues such as racial profiling, economic disparities, and educational inequities. These forums allow for the expression of grievances and the collaborative development of solutions.
  3. Community-Based Programs: Numerous community-based programs focus on empowerment and inclusivity. Initiatives like mentorship programs for minority youth, economic development projects in underserved neighborhoods, and cultural exchange programs aim to build a more inclusive and equitable society.
  4. Policy Reforms: Advocacy for policy reforms at the local and state levels continues to be a critical aspect of conflict resolution. Efforts to reform the criminal justice system, improve educational access, and ensure fair housing practices are ongoing and require persistent advocacy and civic engagement.


The resolution of the Little Rock conflict, both historically and in contemporary times, underscores the importance of steadfast leadership, judicial integrity, and community involvement. The legacy of the Little Rock Nine serves as a powerful reminder of the challenges and triumphs in the quest for civil rights. Modern conflict resolution strategies in Little Rock build on this legacy, striving for a more just and inclusive society. Through education, dialogue, community programs, and policy reforms, Little Rock continues to navigate the complexities of its past while working towards a better future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *