LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – On September 4, 1957, nine black students were blocked from entering Little Rock Central High School. That moment would go on to change the lives for future generations and inspire many more.
The event marked a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement that helped to fight racist policies in the Southern United States.
"Look at what they went through," said tourist Doctor Joyce Whightfield. "Look at the fight for equality and education costs us."
Whightfield graduated from high school in 1966 in California and came to visit Central High School while in town visiting family. She said the experience of seeing the school was emotional.
"I myself am a product of the 60's and 70's," she said. "I felt their pain. I understood the cost of what they went through to get that education."
Her daughter, Mashari Whightfield, said the Little Rock Nine’s bravery inspires her daily.
"I'm really grateful and I feel a sense of responsibility to carry the torch," she said. “I’m just really grateful and thankful for the courage and the strength of those who have gone before me.”
The Wilkins Family also came from Dallas to pay their respects.
"For me to come now is very, very emotional for me," Donald Wilkins said. "It touched me because it allowed me to go to school."
His wife Tangia attended an all-white school in Denver growing up. Seeing the school, she said, was eye opening for her.
“I can imagine what the nine went through compared to what I was dealing with and I understand it,” she said.
Although the Little Rock Nine made history with their entry in a previously all-white school 60 years ago, they are still creating just as much of an impact today.
"They were carrying the burden of every colored child back then on their shoulders and they knew that was the cost of their burden," Whightfield said.
In honor of the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine, the museum also launched a walking tour of where Elizabeth Eckford took her first steps trying to get into the school.
The tour was put together by students at Central High in partnership with Eckford.