HOXIE, AR (KAIT) - In 1955, the Hoxie School District was the first in the nation to be fully integrated.
The community got together and decided that having a school where race was not an issue was not only the legal thing to do but was the right thing to do in the eyes of God.
Saturday, the Hoxie community celebrated the 61st anniversary of what they say is an important part of history during the civil rights era.
The celebration was held at The Studio in Walnut Ridge.
Many residents and city officials came out to experience the history made at Hoxie in an exhibit called Hoxie: The First Stand, but also to mingle with a few students who graduated from the school district during that time.
Fran Cavanaugh, one of the event organizers, said having an event like this is important now more than ever.
"In this time and era where we see a regression of civil rights, we think it is important that people hear this story, that people can get along, we can co-exist and we can do it peacefully," said Cavanaugh.
Ethel Thompkins graduated from Hoxie in 1961 and is the first black graduate from an integrated school in the Northeast Arkansas.
She said she believes that if the community could agree on integration back then, the nation could be rid of all the recent violence if they too remembered one thing.
"Love thy neighbor as thyself and treat others like you would want to be treated," Thompkins said. "You know we'll be a lot better off."
She also said that she hopes people understand the meaning behind Hoxie: The First Stand.
She wants people to reflect on that part of history and gain confidence to do what they believe in.
"Just know who you are," Thompkins said. "You walk into a room, a school room, anything else any other place, just walk in with your head up and chest up and know that you belong."
Right now Hoxie officials are looking to add a Civil Rights museum to the city that will feature the historical facts behind Hoxie: The First Stand.
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