elizabeth eckford

thank you.

little rock

Elizabeth Eckford (born October 1941) is one of the African American students known as the Little Rock Nine. On September 4, 1957, she and eight other African American students attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School, which had previously only accepted white students. They were stopped at the door by Arkansas National Guard troops called up by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. They tried again without success to attend Central High on September 23, 1957. The next day, September 24, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to accompany the Little Rock Nine to school for protection.

In 1958 Elizabeth Eckford moved to St. Louis where she achieved the necessary qualifications to study for a B.A. in history. After graduating she became the first African American in St. Louis to work in a bank in a non-janitorial position. Eckford returned to Little Rock in the 1960s and was employed by the First Division, Pulaski County Circuit Court in Little Rock. In 1996, seven of the Little Rock Nine, including Elizabeth Eckford, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. They came face to face with a few of the white students who tormented them as well as one student who befriended them. A reunion in Little Rock in 1997 provided an opportunity for acts of reconciliation, as noted in this editorial from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on the first day of 1998:

One of the fascinating stories to come out of the reunion was the apology that Hazel Bryan Massery made to Elizabeth Eckford for a terrible moment caught forever by the camera. That 40-year-old picture of hate assailing grace — which had gnawed at Ms. Hazel Massery for decades — can now be wiped clean, and replaced by a snapshot of two friends. The apology came from the real Hazel Bryan Massery, the decent woman who had been hidden all those years by a fleeting image. And the graceful acceptance of that apology was but another act of dignity in the life of Elizabeth Eckford.[1]

[edit] Family tragedy

On the morning of January 1, 2003, Elizabeth Eckford’s son Erin Eckford, 26, was shot and killed by police in Little Rock. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that the police officers had unsuccessfully tried to disarm him with a beanbag round after he had fired several shots from his military style rifle. When Mr. Eckford pointed his rifle towards them, the police officers shot him. His mother feared that his death was “suicide by police”. Erin, she said, had suffered from mental illness but had been off his prescribed medication for several years. On June 18, 2003, the newspaper reported that prosecutors investigating the fatal shooting had decided that the police officers concerned were justified in shooting Mr. Eckford.

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1 Response to “elizabeth eckford”

  1. 1 Haley October 21, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Im writing a report on elizabeth eckford. This website really helped. I cant believe how brave the Little Rock Nine were…. I would be terrified if I have the National Guard keeping me out of the school!

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