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Little Rock 9’s ‘Quiet Determination’ To Resist Unfair System Changed Nation, Set Example
LITTLE ROCK – The “quiet determination” and “stubborn refusal” of the Little Rock 9 to abandon their dreams in the face of an unfair system changed the path of the nation, Governor Asa Hutchinson told the crowd gathered today on the 60th anniversary of the day they entered Central High School.
Governor Hutchinson was one of several speakers who joined the eight surviving members of the Little Rock 9 on the stage of Central High’s Roosevelt Thompson Auditorium.
Minnijean Brown Trickey, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed Wair, Dr. Terrence Roberts, and Carlotta Walls Lanier sat to the right of the lectern, with one empty chair in honor of Jefferson Thomas, who died in 2010.
“Your quiet determination and your stubborn refusal to abandon your dreams not only forced action, but set an example that will last into the ages,” Governor Hutchinson said. “The events of that fall day changed the path of a nation.”
The Little Rock 9 were among the pioneers who took a courageous stand against the segregation of the United States, he said, and “that fact gives us all an even greater appreciation for the lonely steps of the Little Rock 9 as they confronted hostility, the unknown and a defiant governor.”
They certainly encouraged Martin Luther King Jr., who was in the audience in the spring of 1958 when Ernest Green became the first African-American graduate of Central High, the governor noted.
“Perhaps Reverend King was propelled by that moment to fully see the potential of his own dreams; and perhaps he got a glimpse of the mountain top where all of God's children are created equal,” Governor Hutchinson said.
But this is not a time to rest on victories, he said. “The victories sacrificially won by the Little Rock 9 do not guarantee equal opportunity or freedom from discrimination for this generation or the next. … We must be constant in educating the current generation of the importance of tolerance, forgiveness and equal treatment.”
The governor thanked the Little Rock 9 for enduring the pain. “There is no other word to describe your experience. … We are grateful as a state and nation for the difference you made. Arkansas claims you as pioneers, heroes and examples to follow.”
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