the Lost Year
What Happened When Little Rock Closed Its Public Schools
A little known aspect of the
Little Rock School Crisis
“Gordy’s razor-sharp analysis of Little Rock’s
‘Lost Year’ is wonderfully balanced by first-hand
accounts of the often devastating effects on those students
who could least afford to lose a year of their lives.”
—Grif Stockley, author of Ruled
by Race and Blood
in Their Eyes
Much has been written about the Little Rock School Crisis
of 1957, but very little has been devoted to the following
year—the Lost Year, 1958–59—when Little
Rock schools were closed to all students, both black and white.
Finding the Lost Year is the first book to look at the unresolved
elements of the school desegregation crisis and how it turned
into a community crisis, when policymakers thwarted desegregation
and challenged the creation of a racially integrated community
and when competing groups staked out agendas that set Arkansas’s
capital on a path that has played out for the past fifty years.
In Little Rock in 1958, 3,665 students were locked out of
a free public education. Teachers’ lives were disrupted,
but students’ lives were even more confused. Some were
able to attend schools outside the city, some left the state,
some joined the military, some took correspondence courses,
but fully 50 percent of the black students went without any
schooling. Drawing on personal interviews with over sixty
former teachers and students, black and white, Gordy details
the long-term consequences for students affected by events
and circumstances over which they had little control.
“Fifty years ago segregationists trying
to keep black students out of Little Rock Central High inadvertently
broke up one of the country’s greatest football dynasties.
. . . Wait a minute. . . . Who said you can’t have a
high school football team just because you don’t have
a high school? Canceling football, Faubus decreed, would be
‘a cruel and unnecessary blow to the children.’
O.K. then, everyone agreed. Play ball!”
by History,” Sports Illustrated
is professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas.
She produced a documentary about the topic, entitled The
Lost Year. A copy of the DVD can be ordered at www.thelostyear.com.
6 x 9, 248 pages, 9 documents, index
$29.95 (s) cloth
ISBN 978-1-55728-900-1 | 1-55728-900-X