LITTLE ROCK Ark. (KTHV)- It's been 53 years since Little Rock Central High desegregated. That history has not been forgotten.
Crowds gathered at the Clinton Center this morning to commemorate Civil Rights. The University of Arkansas in Little Rock put on the event, to not only commemorate civil rights but also celebrate the one year anniversary of their institute on race and ethnicity. Dr. Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock nine and Bliss Ann Malone Hunter, a freedom rider, spoke at the event.
"It's a very special group for me; it's like family it's like a reunion coming back." Terrence J. Roberts is one of the Little Rock Nine. "We were thrown together under the circumstances 55 years ago and we were forced to be together because of the situation and because of that we developed a connection that is virtually unbreakable."
Roberts and other members of the Little Rock nine were honored at the Clinton Center along with L.C. and Daisy Bates and Christopher Mercer Jr. UALR hosted the event to remember Civil Rights and celebrate their first year of their race and ethnicity institute. Also at the event, Bliss Ann Malone Hunter, a freedom rider from 1961 "It was our America, all of our America, I felt no need to prove to anyone that I was indeed human that I was intelligent and that I would enjoy the full rights of any citizen born with in this country."
Freedom rider Bliss Ann Malone received her heritage marker last year, now 12 more heritage markers will be placed along the civil rights heritage trail the trail starts at the old statehouse museum and ends at the Clinton Center.
The markers, designed to remind us of their courage and their message challenges us to look to the future. "We have to continue to grow that way we can stay alive forever, because when you are finished learning, you're ready to die."
The event also hosted a panel forum today about the institute. UALR's race and ethnicity division was founded last July, in hopes to seek racial and ethnic justice.