You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”Manage Alerts
On the first day of school in 1957, an African American teenager strides away from Little Rock Central High School, grasping a book, sunglasses covering her eyes. History records that Elizabeth Eckford, one of the
Little Rock 9 trying to integrate the Arkansas school, didn’t make it inside that day. Behind her, a white girl named Hazel Bryan is yelling racial taunts, her face contorted in anger. The photograph of that moment, taken for the local paper, has become a symbol of that day, and that time.
See also: Boomers support for rights propelled American society.
Eventually, President Eisenhower sent in troops to escort the black students into school. But violence and fear were day-to-day companions for the nine pioneers.
Ironically, that photograph established a connection between these two women for the rest of their lives. By the 1960s, Bryan (Hazel Massery, by marriage) called Eckford to apologize. In 1997, the two women attended a seminar on racial healing.
In his book Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock, author David Margolick tells the story of what has happened to the two women in the years since that iconic photograph. Margolick writes about Eckford’s struggle to overcome the trauma of her chaotic and frightening school days. He also explores Massery’s efforts to win absolution for her actions.
For more than 50 years, their relationship has continued to evolve, including an appearance together in 1999 on Oprah.
Listen above to Mike Cuthbert’s incisive interview with Margolick as he recounts a story that still lacks a satisfying conclusion.
You may also like: Test your knowledge about black history. >>
James Brown | Community Ambassador
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members save on first-year membership fees to AARP® Roadside Assistance from Allstate.
Credit safeguards with AARP® Credit and Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID®.
Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.
Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.
Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.