Ceremony Marks 60th Anniversary Of Little Rock Central High Integration

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LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) -- On September 25, 1957, nine African-Americans walked through the doors of Little Rock Central High School and into history as the first to attend the all white school.

Officially desegregating Central High School caused a ripple effect felt through the nation.

Those nine students eventually became known as the Little Rock Nine.

One Monday (Sept. 25), eight of the nine were joined by former President Bill Clinton, Governor Asa Hutchinson and hundreds of others in a packed Roosevelt Thompson Auditorium at the high school.

The group was praised for their heroism, six decades after walking to the school building's doors through screaming mobs and racial slurs.

One of them, Ernest Green, said none of them did it for the attention.

"Making history is not something we aspired to do," said Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine. "We wanted the best education our parents' taxes afforded. We wanted what the Constitution said the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and I saw education as a part of that right."

Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, hosted the Little Rock Nine in 1987, where they all gathered in Little Rock for the first time since 1957.

"I think they wanted to be part of America, part of a world, to be full the way God meant us all to be," Clinton remarked.

Governor Hutchinson joined the former president in paying tribute to their quiet determination and stubborn refusal to abandon their dreams, which he said "not only forced action, but set an example that will last into the ages."

"We are gathered here today so that our state and nation will never forget the courage, fortitude, and persistence that you showed the world 50 years ago," Hutchinson said.

Though the mood was high, the tone of the conversation stayed serious, as Terrence Roberts, who went on to receive his PhD in psychology, encouraged others to speak up.

"I have a new vision that shows me what could possibly be. But, it can't happen, I can't do it alone," Roberts said to the crowd. "We all have to engage in this war against the forces that are determined to shore up and maintain the status quo."

Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest of the Little Rock Nine commented that there is still more to do in the fight against racism.

"As a human race, we are strong people, and in the words of the old negro spiritual, we have come too far to turn back now," LaNier said.