L. Lamor Williams
LITTLE ROCK (Aug. 30, 2017) – President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address during the Sept. 25 Central High Integration 60th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony, officials announced today. The ceremony will take place in the Roosevelt Thompson Auditorium at Little Rock Central High School. President Clinton has a long history with the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to attend Little Rock Central High School. In 1987, he hosted them at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion when they all gathered in Little Rock for the first time since the 1957-1958 school year. He was a keynote speaker at the 40th and 50th anniversary commemoration activities. In November 1998, he signed legislation that designated Little Rock Central High as a National Historic Site. The next year, he presented the Little Rock Nine with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States, in a ceremony at the White House.
Little Rock City Manager Bruce T. Moore who serves as the chairman of the steering committee that’s been planning the commemorative events said “We’ve been working hard for the past year and I’m excited that President Clinton will be able to join us as the keynote speaker for the Commemoration Ceremony to honor these living treasures.” Little Rock Central High School is recognized for the role it played in the integration of public schools in the United States. Following the 1954 Brown v. Board decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Central High became an international focal point as nine African American students sought to enroll in the formerly all-white school. On September 25, 1957, under the protection of members of the 101st Airborne, as sent in by President Dwight Eisenhower, the Little Rock Nine entered into Central High School.
From Sept. 22 through Sept. 25, a series of events will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School by the Little Rock Nine. Using the theme Reflections of Progress, the events include the dedication of a sculpture on the grounds of Little Rock Central High School, an education symposium, a concert as a fundraiser for the Little Rock Nine Foundation, a panel featuring the children of the Little Rock Nine, an interfaith service, and the commemoration ceremony at Little Rock Central High School. The events have been planned by a steering committee consisting of representatives from the City of Little Rock, the Little Rock School District, National Park Service, Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau and other community partners.