LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The Little Rock Central High School and the entire city has been preparing for this day for over a year where they commemorate the Little Rock Nine. The event highlighted sixty historical years and plenty more to come.
Monday’s ceremony included remarks from eight of the Little Rock Nine, state and city dignitaries, and former President Bill Clinton.
“The only way we can have true reconciliation is if we honestly acknowledge our painful, but shared past,” said Elizabeth Eckford.
September 25,1957 is a day in time they, and the entire United States, will never forget. Sixty years ago, a group of teenagers who just wanted to be included arrived at Little Rock Central High School in the back of Army Jeeps.
Amid the chaos of that day, nine black students would enter a previously all-white school for the first time in Arkansas, putting an end to segregation in the classroom.
“Making history is not something we aspired to do," said Ernest Green. "We wanted the best education our parents' taxes afforded.”
None of them had any idea the courageous steps they took, despite opposition, would change the path of a nation.
“We are now living in a world where we are going back and revisiting the original questions of this country and the original things that tore this country apart,” President Bill Clinton said.
Now, the very school that once opposed the young black students celebrates them. They celebrate their fight for civil rights and sacrifice.
"I feel like I'm visiting a religious shrine. I first saw this September 1957, just after I had turned seven years old,” said Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
“The integration of Central High was so early in the civil rights movement. It was before the many of the counter sit ins and was before the bus rides,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said.
Their fight will continue to serve as an example for generations, both at Central High School and beyond.
"I never thought I would stand here, I can't really say I feel comfortable being here," said Gloria Ray Kalmark, "but I am here and it feels pretty good.”