Clinton Digital Library

"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.

Little Rock Nine Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

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, 1998, and thanked the Nine for enduring the “volcano of hatred.”

Congressional Gold Medal to the Little Rock Nine

This is a revised draft of remarks given in honor of the Congressional Gold Medal presented to the Little Rock Nine. This copy contains handwritten revisions and notes by President Clinton.  

Program from Congressional Gold Medal Presentation

This is the program from the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in the White House.

Congressional Gold Medal

The Little Rock Nine medals were authorized by H.R. 2560, the Little Rock Nine Medals and Coins Act, sponsored by Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.). H.R. 2560, enacted into law on October 21, 1998, was included in the FY99 Omnibus Appropriations bill.