“This is a mesmerizing and brave book, a story with complicated layers and meaning for all Americans, a heroic saga of progress and its consequences.”
—Ken Burns, director of Jazz and The War
In September 1957 nine black children tried to integrate Arkansas’s Little Rock Central High School in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Claiming he was acting to keep the peace, Gov. Orval Faubus used the Arkansas National Guard to keep them out of the school. After a lengthy standoff, President Eisenhower called in the 101st Airborne and reluctantly, slowly, but forcibly began to integrate the school. The standoff became a rallying cry for Southern segregationists and a marker of the country’s shame.
The accounts that have been so mythologized over the years leave people embarrassed and angry, yet the myth is a cardboard cutout of the full story. Turn Away Thy Son, told from the point of view of sixteen key participants, brings the nine students, their tormentors, the school administration, the governor, and the press to vivid life. It shows the truth about Little Rock, beyond the caricatures to the fundamental driving forces that made school desegregation the hottest of hot-button issues in the Jim Crow South.
Turn Away Thy Son was originally published by Free Press in 2007.