We Must All Thank Them

In this speech quote, President Clinton retraces the steps of the Little Rock Nine who integrated Central High in 1957. Though the National Guard initially turned them away on September 5th, the students were finally able to enter the school on September 25th, 1957. However, entering Central was only the beginning of their difficulties.  Singled out in the previously all-white school, the students endured verbal, emotional, and physical abuse from their peers and from the staff that turned a blind eye, as they share in interviews for the National Park Service Central High School Oral History Clips.

In a highly symbolic gesture, President Clinton opened the door for Little Rock Nine to the school they had fought so hard to attend 40 years prior.  Pictured are Terrence Roberts, Ernest Green, Melba Pattilo Beals, and Elizabeth Eckford.

Congressional Gold Medal

In recognition of all they endured, Congress awarded their highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal to the Little Rock Nine on October 21, 1998.  President Clinton made the presentation on November 9, 1999, and thanked the Nine for enduring the “volcano of hatred.”