Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Rock Nine Honored

View of the Clinton Presidential Center's main...Image via Wikipedia

Former President Bill Clinton joined the eight living members of the Little Rock Nine on Saturday to dedicate an exhibit in the Clinton Presidential Center commemorating the black students who were pioneers in school integration more than five decades ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 outlawed racial segregation in the nation's public schools, but it wasn't until 1957, at Little Rock, that the federal government resolved to enforce the court's directive.

The Little Rock Nine Congressional Gold Medal exhibit features one of the medals awarded to the group by Clinton on behalf of the Congress in 1999. Members of the Little Rock Nine collectively donated the medal to the Clinton Foundation in 2009 to honour their relationship with the former president.

The exhibit also features a video documenting the history of the Little Rock Nine, including a 1957 speech from former President Dwight D. Eisenhower calling for the use of troops to protect black students trying to integrate in Little Rock, along with their high school diplomas and other related memorabilia.

After his election in 2008, President Barack Obama sent each of the nine special invitations to his inauguration as the nation's first black president and credited the students with making opportunities in his life possible.

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