Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan were both 15 years old in 1957. The photograph that was taken of them that day affected the rest of their lives.
David Margolick follows both their lives and their relationship, using them as a unique lens through which to view race relations in the United States. After Little Rock, Elizabeth and Hazel’s first contact was in the early 1960s, when Hazel telephoned Elizabeth to apologize. They met in person on the 30th anniversary of the photograph, found they had a lot in common, and became friends. They traveled together, spoke to school groups together. Sadly, it didn’t last; Elizabeth and Hazel are currently estranged.
Adult/High School–One of the most iconic photographs in the United States, taken at Central High School on September 4, 1957, shows two teens entering high school, one cursing with rage, the other quietly resolved. Margolick’s book fills in the rest of the story. Elizabeth Eckford was never supposed to walk to school on her own that day. However, the lack of a telephone in her house meant she never got the message to arrive en masse with the other black students, soon to be dubbed “the Little Rock Nine.” Hazel Bryan, the white girl filled with hate, would not cross paths with Elizabeth again until the two reconciled many years later as adults. Weaving in and out of both women’s lives from a young age to current day, Margolick reveals new facts about the civil-rights movement by focusing on this narrow subject. At times his book is almost painful to read because of the hateful language used. The first-person interviews and detailed research no doubt accurately reflect the strong emotions of that time. Readable, and with plenty of photos, this title should be available to all high school students as well as adults. Elizabeth and Hazel is a poignant reminder that equality and freedom came with a steep price 60 years ago.–Sara Campbell, Rowan Public Library, Salisbury, NC