Judy's Reviews > Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock

Elizabeth and Hazel by David Margolick
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Apr 13, 12

Read in April, 2012

On the morning of September 4, 1957, due to a miscommunication about where to meet, Elizabeth Eckford, one of the "Little Rock Nine", set out for her first day at Central High School. Arriving alone, she was isolated among a mob of angry, hostile whites who were determined that African Americans were not going to integrate Central High School. With cries of "lynch her" and "let's drag her over to that tree" ringing in her ears, Elizabeth was denied entrance to the school and had to walk through the crowd to the bus stop to await the arrival of the next bus that would carry her to safety. One of the most iconic pictures from Little Rock in the first weeks in September was Elizabeth walking through the crowd with a white girl standing directly behind her screaming racial epithets at her. Frozen forever in that moment, Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan Massey, her tormentor, were linked together in one of the most famous photographs of the civil rights movement and provided a reminder, as if the country needed a reminder, of the personal costs of desegregation and showcased the fact that much of the burden of desegregation was placed on young people. David Margolick tells the story of these two girls and the impact that the desegregation of Central High School had on their lives. Elizabeth struggled daily with the trauma of the Little Rock desegregation year and, ironically, Hazel was pulled out of the school and sent to a small rural high school to avoid the desegregation crisis. Margolick follows the life story of both women as both had to deal with the events of 1957. The two women finally met in middle age and slowly worked their way through apology, forgiveness, and what was almost unbelievable to me, friendship. The value of this book, besides being a compelling read and well-written, is David Margolick putting human faces on one of the most shameful chapters in American history and revealing how a chance encounter on that September morning had a lasting impact on the lives of two women.
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