On September 2, 1957, the day before the nine black students were to enter Central High, National Guardsmen surrounded the school. In a televised speech that night, Governor Orval Faubus explained that he had called the National Guardmen because he had heard that white supremacists from all over the state were descending on Little Rock. He declared Central off-limits to blacks and Horace Mann, the black high school, off-limits to whites. He also proclaimed that if the black students attempted to enter Central, "blood would run in the streets." 
The black students did not attend the first day of school. Early on Wednesday, September 4, Daisy Bates of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who was helping out the nine, called to tell them that they were to meet a few blocks away from the school and walk in together. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Eckford, one of the nine, did not have a phone. She never received the message and attempted to enter the school alone through the front entrance. An angry mob met her, threatening to lynch her, as the Arkansas National Guard looked on. Fortunately, two whites stepped forward to aid her, and she escaped without injury. The other eight were also denied admittance by the National Guard, under orders from Governor Faubus.