The Latest: Vacant seat honors member of Little Rock 9

AP News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2017 12:23 PM

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):

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.