The Little Rock Nine returned Tuesday to the school they once entered under federal military escort to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Central High desegregation. This time they were met by the cheers of hundreds of supporters, among them former President Clinton.
More than 4,000 people turned out for the campus ceremony under gray skies threatening rain. They bore witness to a new chapter in the history of civil rights - this time by listening to the nine former students speak about their experiences and implore the community to continue to strive for equality in education.
"You can overcome adversity if you know you are doing the right thing," said Carlotta Walls Lanier, one of the nine students who integrated Central High School on Sept. 25, 1957.
Gov. Mike Beebe said Arkansas has made progress in the 50 years since the Central crisis but that economic and educational inequalities still exist.
"There will always be a necessity to show that we are inclusive as a society," Beebe said. "The lesson is that we need to make sure that people learn from this event and be as inclusive as possible."
Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.