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Posted under: Social Justice Culture

Of The 12 Times A U.S. President Deployed The National Guard, 10 Were Responses To Racial Tensions

Large-scale riots due to racial injustice have been an overwhelming catalyst for military presence.

President Donald Trump has announced himself as the “the president of law and order” and has said he would dispatch the United States military amid growing racial tensions following the deaths of a string of Black citizens, reports WUSA9.

This comes fresh off the heels of Trump seemingly endorsing police violence by tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” as Blavity previously reported.

But Trump’s threats to sic the military on its citizens isn’t unfamiliar to the office. In fact, American presidents have a history of deploying the military when racial tensions run rampant, reports the Chicago Tribune. Out of the 12 times in U.S. history when the National Guard has been called upon by a president, 10 of those instances were related to racial integration and Black uprisings. 


Desegregation Of Little Rock School
The first time the guard was deployed came in 1957 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed an executive order that sent the Army to Little Rock, Arkansas, to protect nine Black students, famously known as the Little Rock Nine, as they became the first to desegregate Central High School. Ironically, Gov. Orval Faubus had earlier called in the Arkansas National Guard to refuse entry to the Black students.

Integration Of The University Of Mississippi
When Air Force veteran James Meredith tried to integrate the all-white school in 1962, riots exploded on campus. Two civilians died, and there were countless untold injuries. Meredith was placed in federal protection and allowed to register for classes the next morning.

Integration Of The University Of Alabama
Alabama Gov. George Wallace infamously promised to prevent the integration of schools, declaring, "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Too bad for him, he wasn’t able to deliver on his campaign promise even after personally standing in the door of the enrollment office to prevent integration in 1963. President John F. Kennedy sent the guard to protect the students and force Wallace to allow them to enroll.

Integration Of Alabama Schools

The decision in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) didn’t automatically eliminate segregation in school. Alabama public schools weren’t integrated until 1963 when Sonnie Hereford IV enrolled in an all-white school. Kennedy again sent in the guard to escort Hereford to school, as Gov. Wallace had attempted to block desegregation. 


Selma Riots
Known as “Bloody Sunday,” a 1965 peaceful protest led by now Congressman John Lewis was interrupted by police violence when the protesters tried to cross Edmund Pettus Bridge. President Lyndon B. Johnson deployed the guard to ensure marchers could get from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, without issue. 

Detroit Riots
A 1967 riot broke out after police arrested Black partygoers. Also known as the 12th Street Riot, the violent incident is considered the third-worst riot in U.S. history, according to the History Channel.

Riots Following MLK's Assassination
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, and riots and looting swept across cities as an outlet for the pain and frustration Black folks were feeling. In Chicago, soldiers were deployed to the city to keep order, but the resulting damage included 162 destroyed buildings and 12 deaths. The guard was also called to quell violence in Baltimore and Washington D.C as news of King's death spread across the country.

Rodney King Riots In Los Angeles
Rodney King was brutally beaten by police after being dragged out of his car. The officers took turns beating him with batons, some kicking him, as he wailed for his life. A neighbor filmed the attack. In 1992, when the officers were found not guilty of all major charges, Los Angeles was set ablaze in a week of violence, arson and looting.

CNN reported that with the recent deployments of 17,000 National Guardsmen, there are currently as many guard members on active duty in the U.S. as there are active-duty troops deployed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan combined. 

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Queer Multi-hyphenate creative who likes fruit snacks and well written TV. She is looking to be in somebody's writers' room. Her work is centered in narrative based social commentary. She forgot her twitter password ages ago, but you can still tag her @ImAmandaMonroe. On IG: @moe_sizslack. She has a cat named Eartha Kitt. Amanda thinks that joke is hilarious.