Sixty years after their first visit, six members of the "Little Rock Nine" are back in New York.
"It was a very pleasant experience, from Little Rock to here," said member Ernest Green. "I remember it like it was yesterday."
The Little Rock Nine made history in 1957, enrolling at the all-white Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.
The governor led an angry mob and National Guardsmen in blocking block them, but President Dwight Eisenhower intervened, sending in the Army and taking control of the Guardsmen to enforce th school's integration.
"Watching the mob and their behavior, it was really instrumental in shaping what our behavior was going to be when we were there," said another member of the group, Minnijean Brown-Trickey. "It was kind of like, I don't ever want to be that kind of person."
In 1958, the New York Hotel Trades Council invited the nine students to New York honor them. The teens met Mayor Robert Wagner, took in a Broadway show, and went sightseeing.
This year, the eight surviving members of the Little Rock Nine were invited back. Six made the trip, including Ernest Green, who after high school and college went on to serve as an assistant U.S. secretary of labor and have a successful career in public finance.
"For those who are facing problems, you don't know what the future is going to bring," Green said. "The likelihood is if you stick to your principles and stick to your guns, you'll be successful."
The main reason the Little Rock Nine are back in New York City is to attend the premiere of an off-Broadway play about their courageous stand.
"Little Rock" opens at the Sheen Center on Thursday. The playwright spent 13 years interviewing his heroes.
"To know that the 'Little Rock Nine' opened the door for opportunities for diversity, and that should always be at the forefront because that's part of the American dream and education, and what makes our city, New York, so great," playwright Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj said.
"It's going to be a learning opportunity — or a teachable moment — for those in the audience for those who aren't aware of what took place 61 years ago," said Carlotta LaNier, another member of the Little Rock Nine. "With that, it will open up some eyes to a lot of people to understand that I don't think they want to go back to those times."
A message that the surviving members of the Little Rock Nine, and their families, continue to spread.