The intervention of the federal government and the deployment of the National Guard in the 1954 Little Rock crisis, and again in 1963 when the enrollment of James Meredith desegregated the University of Mississippi, highlights the role of federal power in promoting social change during this era. While black local and national leaders organized and orchestrated the legal struggles, and students joined in freedom rides and staged sit-ins, another equally important dimension of the rights quest took shape : the battle between federal and state authority and the evolution of the doctrine of federalism. The fact remains that the United States Supreme Court lacked the power to enforce its decision. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's use of federal troops in Little Rock was a major departure from the reluctance of past presidents to display federal power in the South, especially to protect the lives and rights of black citizens.
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