Humboldt Beacon (http://www.humboldtbeacon.com)

The Latest: Bill Clinton reminds of tenet to love neighbors


Monday, September 25, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) The Latest on the ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School. (all times local):

12:35 p.m.

Former President Bill Clinton says the nine black schoolchildren who integrated Little Rock's Central High School simply wanted to be a part of America and a part of the wider world.

Clinton delivered the keynote speech Monday at an event marking the anniversary of when the nine students entered the school on Sept. 25, 1957, under escort by federal troops.

The former president said genetic research shows that all humans are essentially the same and that people shouldn't fight over the half percent that is different.

Clinton also said that nearly all of the world's religions teach that, after the love of God, the love of neighbor is next in importance.

He also said that it was right to put on dancing shoes and celebrate today, but that marching boots would be necessary again tomorrow.

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12 p.m.

The surviving members of the Little Rock Nine offered their recollections of their time at Central High School as they marked the 60th anniversary of their integration of the school.

Gloria Ray Karlmark opted Monday to talk about the last day of the 1957-58 school year, rather than the students' tumultuous first day on Sept. 25, 1957, when federal troops had to escort nine black teenagers into the school past an angry white mob.

Karlmark said that on that final school day, she picked up her yearbook but wondered who would sign it. A white girlfriend with whom she had exchanged notes was the first to sign. Karlmark said another girl wrote that the two could be friends "in a different age."

The eight surviving members of the group attended the event while an empty chair on the stage recognized the one who has died, Jefferson Thomas.

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11:25 a.m.

The surviving members of the Little Rock Nine have gathered at Central High School to mark the 60th anniversary of the school's integration.

Organizers of the event set aside space for each of the nine, but one seat was empty.

That chair was for Jefferson Thomas, who died in 2010. The chair was draped with a sash of old gold and black, the school's colors.

Central High was integrated when nine black students entered the school on Sept. 25, 1957, under escort by federal troops.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola told the crowd that while Central High's desegregation crisis is part of the city's history, it doesn't have to be part of its legacy.

The Midwest regional director of the National Park Service, Cameron Sholly, noted that Central High is the country's only National Historic Site that is also a functioning high school.

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11 a.m.

The surviving members of the Little Rock Nine have gathered at Central High School to mark the 60th anniversary of the school's integration.

Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech later Monday morning. The event marks the anniversary of when nine black students entered the school on Sept. 25, 1957, under escort by federal troops.

As the ceremony opened, the student body presidents from the city's five public high schools led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and the local school district's spokesman sang the national anthem. All of the dignitaries and the 100 or so students on stage stood throughout.

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10:35 a.m.

A ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School will feature former President Bill Clinton.

Monday's event at the school will also include the eight surviving members of the nine students who entered the school on Sept. 25, 1957, under escort by federal troops.

The integration came after then-Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus had called out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the nine from entering the school.

President Eisenhower then sent units of the 327th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, to escort the students and hold back the angry crowds.

The ceremony is the culmination of a weekend of activities marking the anniversary of the event.