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Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rockby David Margolick
Synopses & Reviews
The names Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan Massery may not be well known, but the image of them from September 1957 surely is: a black high school girl, dressed in white, walking stoically in front of Little Rock Central High School, and a white girl standing directly behind her, face twisted in hate, screaming racial epithets. This famous photograph captures the full anguish of desegregation—in Little Rock and throughout the South—and an epic moment in the civil rights movement.
In this gripping book, David Margolick tells the remarkable story of two separate lives unexpectedly braided together. He explores how the haunting picture of Elizabeth and Hazel came to be taken, its significance in the wider world, and why, for the next half-century, neither woman has ever escaped from its long shadow. He recounts Elizabeths struggle to overcome the trauma of her hate-filled school experience, and Hazels long efforts to atone for a fateful, horrible mistake. The book follows the painful journey of the two as they progress from apology to forgiveness to reconciliation and, amazingly, to friendship. This friendship foundered, then collapsed—perhaps inevitably—over the same fissures and misunderstandings that continue to permeate American race relations more than half a century after the unforgettable photograph at Little Rock. And yet, as Margolick explains, a bond between Elizabeth and Hazel, silent but complex, endures.
"Vanity Fair contributing editor Margolick (Beyond Glory) brings his considerable skill to telling a tale many may, mistakenly, think they already know. Bound together in the iconic photograph of the integration of Little Rock's Central High School in which the white Hazel Bryan is caught screaming epithets at the stoic black student, Elizabeth Eckford, the two women went on different paths charted by this sympathetic and readable dual biography. Elizabeth survived the horrendous harassment of her high school years, and the lavish attention upon the Little Rock Nine, followed by a difficult early adulthood. While Hazel's high school years, spent in anonymity at another school, are more halcyon, her early adult years are difficult as well. For both young women, the experience and the photograph that was to follow them were transformative. Margolick pays particularly insightful attention to the photographs and media coverage stimulated not only by the event but all the ensuing anniversaries. As Margolick moves through Elizabeth's days at Central High with new and meticulous detail, he gives Hazel a young life as well before turning to the separate years before they actually meet. Here Margolick's book becomes utterly engrossing, for it touches on a variety of thorny, provocative themes: the power of race, the nature of friendship, the role of personality, the capacity for brutality and for forgiveness. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Who were the two fifteen-year-old girls from Little Rock—one black, one white—in one of the most unforgettable photographs of the civil rights era? From what worlds did they come? What happened to them? How did the picture affect their lives?
About the Author
David Margolick is contributing editor, Vanity Fair, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review. He was for fifteen years a legal affairs reporter at the New York Times, writing the weekly "At the Bar" column and covering the trial of O. J. Simpson, among others. His most recent book is Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink. He lives in New York City.
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Biography » Historical
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » African American Studies » Civil Rights Movement
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Racism and Ethnic Conflict
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General