President Clinton Honors Little Rock Nine

By: Manning Marable

President Clinton joined members of Congress in presenting Congressional Gold Medals to the members of the “Little Rock Nine” (left) in recognition of the selfless heroism they exhibited and the pain they suffered in the cause of civil rights when they integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.

“We honor them today, but let us not forget to heed their lessons,” Clinton said during the presentation in the East Room of the White House November 9. “They taught us that you can turn your cheek from violence without averting your eyes to injustice. And they taught us that they could pay their price and go on. Let us learn from them and honor their example.”

Clinton said that in some instinctive way, the “Little Rock Nine” knew that “honest and real differences can only be explored, confronted and worked through, and diversity can only be celebrated when we recognize that the most important fact of life is our common humanity.”

“The truth is, almost all children know that. They have to be taught differently,” the President said. “Because so many were taught differently, it fell to these nine Americans when they were young, as children, to become our teachers. And because they taught us well, we are a better country.”

The “Little Rock Nine” consists of Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Dr. Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls Lanier, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed-Wair and Melba Pattillo Beals.

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