The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v Board of Education in 1954 declared segregated schools unconstitutional. In 1957, in open defiance of this ruling, the governor of Arkansas ordered the Arkansas National Guard to deny nine African-American students’ entrance to Little Rock Central High School.
After President Eisenhower tried to convince the governor not to resist federal authority, the governor removed the Guard units … and replaced them with city police. At that point, Eisenhower didn’t have much choice; he federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard to ensure that the students could enter.
A white student at Central High at the time, Craig Rains, recalled to PBS that after one of the Little Rock Nine was kicked out for dumping a bowl of chili on a white student’s head following repeated harassment:
Maybe 15, 20 students brought cards and gave them out that said, “One down, eight to go.” When school was out in May, they still hadn’t given up the fight. They came out with a two-colored card that said, “Ike, Go Home, Liberation Day May 29, 1958,” which was graduation day. They were still fighting the battle even then.Ernest Green was the first of the Little Rock Nine to graduate, making him the first African-American ever to graduate from Little Rock Central High School. Green went on to graduate from Michigan State University and later served as Assistant Secretary of Labor during President Jimmy Carter’s administration. He’s currently the Managing Director of Public Finance for Lehman Brothers; he was listed in 2006 as one of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street” by Black Enterprise Magazine.
He and the other eight students were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Anti-Eisenhower card via the University of Arkansas Libraries, Special Collections Department
On August 3, 1923, Calvin Coolidge was on vacation at his old family home in Vermont when he was woken by his father, who addressed him as “Mr. President” and delivered a telegram with the grim news of President Warren G. Harding’s sudden death:
After a life of national service our Commander in Chief President Harding died at San Francisco last evening. Through these troubled and important years he gave himself unsparingly to the service of our country and accomplished great good. He wore himself down by the burdens he was carrying. No men in our history more truly gave his life for his country. Under the Constitution Calvin Coolidge Vice President has become President.
After drafting a condolence letter to Mrs. Harding, Coolidge began preparations for his swearing-in as the new President. However, since he was in Vermont, federal officials to swear him in were few and far between. Colonel John Coolidge, the Vice President’s father, took over the swearing in duties, being a local notary. He is the only father who has sworn in his son as President of the United States.
"Your Dad has told me that you are a stamp collector and I thought you might like to have these stamps to add to your collection."
Letter from President Franklin Roosevelt to nine year old Bobby Kennedy on July 12, 1935
"I am going to frame your letter and I am going to keep it always in my room."
Reply to President Roosevelt from Bobby Kennedy on July 19, 1935
March 17, 1962 (It’s a great day for the Irish).
By Gib Crockett — Courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
All the Way with LBJ … But Don’t Go Near the YMCA
Weeks before the 1964 presidential election, Walter Jenkins, a longtime aide to President Johnson, was caught by police in a YMCA men’s room in Washington, D.C. having sex with another man. It was a shocking arrest, not least to his wife and six children. Johnson was taken aback as well, saying, “I couldn’t have been more shocked about Walter Jenkins if I’d heard that Lady Bird had tried to kill the Pope.”
The story was leaked to the press and Jenkins submitted his resignation to Johnson, before checking himself into a hospital for “exhaustion.”
Despite the minor scandal, Johnson handily defeated Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in November.
Anti-LBJ button from Heritage Auctions (HA.com)
On October 11, 1975, Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC, with then-Weekend Update host Chevy Chase reporting on someone who would become a frequent SNL subject, President Gerald Ford:Dateline: Washington. At a press conference Thursday night, President Ford blew his nose. Alert Secret Service agents seized his handkerchief and wrestled it to the ground.By all accounts, Ford was good-humored about the ribbing he took. On April 17, 1976, Ford appeared on the show to deliver its famous opening, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” - to date, the only president to do so.
And, yesterday, in Washington, President Ford bumped his head three times getting into his helicopter. The CIA immediately denied reports that it had deliberately lowered the top of the doorway.
And, Ford was on the campaign trail, announcing in Detroit that he has written his own campaign slogan. The slogan? “If He’s So Dumb, How Come He’s President?”
Button from Lori Ferber Presidential Memorabilia