My previous post made me want to look more into the history of the Little Rock Nine photos. In particular, the famous ones by Will Counts showing 15-year old Elizabeth Eckford being yelled at by protestors who are following her to class and verbally abusing her. The two photos are so famous because of the pure hatred that Hazel Bryan, the woman in the white dress in the middle, is demonstrating.
Imagine being 15-years old and being hounded by adults who are preventing you from going to school! Vanity Fair researched this famous set of photos by Counts in 2007 and learned more about the events immediately surrounding their capture. The article is an interesting read (one of the most engrossing things I’ve read all week!), but at 8 pages long, here are a few highlights:
– In 2007, Elizabeth Eckford was still living in the same house she left that day in 1957. While many of her abusers ended up leaving Little Rock, she did not.
– When she arrived at school that day, there were 250 adults abusing her as she walked to the building. The reporters on scene that day recorded some of the taunts: “Lynch her! Lynch her!” “No nigger bitch is going to get in our school! Get out of here!” “Go back to where you came from!” “Send that nigger back to the jungle!” “Two, four, six, eight—we don’t want to integrate!” “Drag her over to this tree!” Hazel herself shouted: “Go home, nigger! Go back to Africa!”
– Grace Lorch, a white woman walked alongside Elizabeth and offered to help her call a cab from the pharmacy across the street. “When they reached it, the owner locked the door in their faces.” They then waited for the bus together for 35 minutes – can you imagine how long that wait must have seemed?
– Showing how young Elizabeth was, she took the bus to her mother’s work because as she said, there are times “when you just know you need your mama”. One can only imagine how experiencing verbal abuse, racism, and death threats at this young age would effect someone.
Full article here [Vanity Fair: Through a Lens, Darkly]