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"Little Rock Nine" Receive Lincoln Leadership Prize

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Civil rights pioneers were in downstate Illinois on Tuesday, after being honored in Chicago Monday night for their work since they ended racial segregation at an all-white school in Arkansas decades ago.

Ernie Green said he expected there would be a few words when he and eight other African-Americans started at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957, but he expected the rest of the other students would come around.

Instead, those few whites that reached out to them were subjected to the same terror and intimidation that the blacks were.

Green said the "Little Rock Nine" had the strength to endure threats and intimidation at the previously all-white school, because their families had high expectations for them.

He said he wants that for more black students and more options. Now, Green looks at protests in Baltimore and Ferguson and sees problems with access to good schools, plus jobs, housing, and fair treatment for drug crimes still exist.

Green and the other surviving members the "Little Rock Nine" were in Chicago on Monday to receive the 2015 Lincoln Leadership Prize from the Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. On Tuesday, they were touring Springfield, home of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.


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