The NAACP in partnership with CBS Studios is set to launch a limited series centered on the Little Rock Nine, Deadline reports. The series is part of a new slate of programming under the direction of Sheila Ducksworth, the president of the NAACP/CBS venture.
Written and executive produced by Gwen Parker, the eight-part limited series will take an in-depth look at the 1957-1958 school year of the Little Rock Nine on the 65th anniversary of “one of the most seminal events in American history.”
When the U.S. deemed segregated schools unconstitutional, the NAACP enrolled nine Black students to attend Little Rock Central High, an all-white high school in 1957. On the first day of the school year, the Arkansas National Guard was deployed by the Arkansas' governor to block the Black students from entering the school. The event attracted national attention as President Eisenhower sent a military escort to accompany the teenagers. Over the course of the year, the Black students encountered physical and verbal abuse by many of the white students.
To bring the series to life, the NAACP opened their archives to the Little Rock Nine creative team.
“The NAACP was at the forefront of that event back in 1957, and in fact, Daisy Bates, the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, was the force to make it all happen back then,” Ducksworth said. “So, the NAACP is well-steeped in this project, Little Rock Nine, and I have to say, we couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
The series will feature both established and upcoming Black writers on the project.
“Our approach is we read everything, We read everything. We meet with people to get a sense of the kinds of things that are of interest to them, and it’s a real gamut,” Ducksworth added.
Johnson noted that the time is right for the world to hear the story of how the Little Rock Nine helped to change the country with their courage in the face of white supremacy.
“The current political and societal landscape demands that we expand the voices, contexts, and visibility of artists producing content around the African American experience,” Johnson said. “Great storytelling has a unique ability to entertain, educate, and influence perspectives on critical issues. The projects stemming from the NAACP partnership with CBS Studios will continue to push the boundaries on the variety of stories available to audiences.”
The Little Rock Nine series will air on Apple TV+.