The Little Rock Nine becomes the Little Rock Ten Million (416K wav)
Green looks to Frederick Douglass for inspiration (192K wav)
The families of the nine students were heroes also (320K wav)
Green on the racial divide in America (320K wav)
Clinton Names Advisory Board On Race (6/12/97)
Clinton Honors Little Rock Nine
President recalls their sacrifice, seeks rededication to racial progress
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AllPolitics, Sep. 25) -- Forty years ago armed paratroopers escorted nine black students past an angry crowd into Central High School. Today President Bill Clinton opened the school's front doors for the Little Rock Nine again and honored them for the sacrifices they made toward racial progress in America.
Before standing at the doors to shake their hands, Clinton delivered an impassioned speech celebrating that historic moment four decades ago and seeking a rededication to solving the thorny problem of race in America. "Forty years ago, they climbed these steps, passed through this door and moved our nation," said Clinton. "For that we must all thank them."
Under a brilliant blue sky, Clinton praised the Little Rock Nine and their parents, extolled the value of a good education, and called for action to improve the future for America's children. (576K wav sound)
The day was a sign of how far the country has come, and a reminder of how far it has yet to go. "Forty years later," said the president, "we know there are still more doors to be opened, doors to be opened wider, doors we have to keep from being shut again now." (416K wav sound)
"Forty years later, we know the question of race is more complex and more important than ever," he said. " ... Forty years later, frankly, we know we are bound to come back where we started. After all the weary years and silent tears, after all the stony roads and bitter rods, the question of race is, in the end, still an affair of the heart." (256K wav sound)
A different crowd gathers at Central High
The scene outside Central High School today was quite different than 40 years ago. The jeers of the angry crowd had been traded for applause; the scowls of white teenagers were exchanged for smiles; and an enthusiastic crowd of blacks and whites, basking in the words of a hometown hero, sat in front of the yellow-brick school.
"I want all the children here to look at these people," said Clinton. "They persevered, they endured, and they prevailed, but it was at a great cost to themselves ... Like so many Americans, I can never fully repay my debt to these nine people, because, with their innocence, they purchased more freedom for me, too, and for all white people." (320K wav sound)
Clinton called for Americans to reconcile, to forgive and to pay at