Daily Video

December 19, 2011

Elizabeth and Hazel: two women of Little Rock

The ‘Little Rock Nine’ famously de-segregated Little Rock High School in Arkansas in 1957. A new book tells the story of one of those nine students, Elizabeth Eckford, who is featured in a famous photograph of her being heckled for her decision to attend an all-white high school by another student, Hazel Bryan.

The new book, titled “Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock,” looks at the very different tracks those women’s lives took after the photograph was taken. Elizabeth suffered through a torturous year at Little Rock High during which she was thrown down the stairs, scalded in the shower and knocked into lockers, all because she was a black student. Hazel, on the other hand, was pulled out of Little Rock High to attend another school because her parents feared for her safety once the photograph was released across the country.

Eventually, and miraculously, Elizabeth and Hazel became friends. Hazel realized what she had done wrong and sought forgiveness from Elizabeth. However, it was much more difficult for the public to forgive Hazel – she was criticized both by African-Americans and by whites in her own community, either for having heckled the Little Rock Nine or for having given the school a bad name through the photograph.

“The story of Elizabeth and Hazel is not yet complete,” says the author of the new book, David Margolick. “I mean, there’s another chapter, I think, to be written. It may not be by me, but, to me, their relationship is unresolved and incomplete still at this point.”

Quotes

“Hazel was haunted by this picture, not immediately, it’s true. But within a few years, she realized that she had done something terribly wrong.” – David Margolick, author and contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Warm Up Questions

1. What is segregation?

2. What were Jim Crow laws?

3. What happened during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s?

4. Who were the Little Rock Nine?

Discussion Questions

1. What is Brown vs. the Board of Education?

2. Why is Brown vs. the Board of Education a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court?

3. According to the story, “Hazel became part of the crowd. Hazel wasn’t a particularly politically active student, didn’t really follow what was going on, I think probably could have told you very little about Brown vs. the Board of Education and the whole process of desegregation.” Why do you think Hazel acted this way even though the story says she knew little about segregation? Discuss.

4. What would you have done if you were Hazel Bryan?

5. What happened when Elizabeth and Hazel became friends? What challenges did they face during their friendship?

6. Have you ever done something you regretted? If so, what did you do about it? Was it hard for you?

Additional Resources

Book Tells How Iconic Civil Rights Era Photo Changed Lives of 2 Women

The Freedom Riders and the Popular Music of the Civil Rights Movement

New Freedom Rides Highlight America’s Changes in 50 Years

Student Freedom Riders Re-Trace History’s Steps

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