Nine African American students made history when they defied a governor and integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957. It was the photo of a young girl trying to enter the school being taunted, harassed and threatened by an angry mob that grabbed the world's attention and kept its disapproving gaze on Little Rock, Arkansas. In defiance of a federal court order, Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to prevent the students from entering all white Central High School. The plan had been for the students to meet and go to school as a group on September 4, 1957. But one student didn't hear of the plan and tried to enter the school alone. A chilling photo by newspaper photographer Will Counts captured the sneering expression of a girl in the mob and made history. Years later Counts snapped another photo, this one of the same two girls, now grownup, reconciling in front of Central High School.
About the Author
Shelley Tougas worked in journalism and public relations before writing children’s books. She is the author of Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration, which was among Booklist’s 2011 Top Ten Editors’ Choices. Shelley lives, writes, and reads in North Mankato, Minnesota.
Table of Contents
Crisis in Little Rock Quest for equal rights Two symbolic photos The American dream.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was just amazing. The author took a photograph that probably most adults have seen at least once in one of their history textbooks (whether they remember it or not) and really makes both it and the era come alive for readers of all ages. The photographs are definitely the stars in this book, as they really show readers snapshots of what was happening in the Arkansas of 1957, but the text is just as effective. It tells, simply but with great impact, what was going on in the South at that time. It's written so that even students who are completely unfamiliar with the Civil Rights Era can understand what was going on--I'd say at least from intermediate grades on up--but even those who have studied the time period in school before won't feel talked down to. It makes history both interesting and more "real" to readers. It begins with the (attempted) first day of school at Little Rock Central High School for Elizabeth Eckford (the "Little Rock Girl" of the title and photo), discusses the Little Rock Nine and their school experiences, and takes the reader right up through the Civil Rights Movement, its effects, and where Elizabeth and the other nine are today. There is a nicely detailed timeline in the back that goes from Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) all the way to the full integration of Little Rock's public schools in 1972...yes, 1972, fifteen years after integration began. There is a glossary of terms at the back, as well as a list of books and Internet sites readers can go to for more information. This is one book I will definitely be adding to my classroom library and using with my middle school classes. It would make an excellent resource for both classrooms and libraries, and every student could benefit from reading it. It makes the plight of Eckert and the other Little Rock Nine students seem far more real and relevant than any social studies book has ever managed to, in my opinion.
On September 4, 1957, nine black students were to meet at the home of the local head of the NAACP and, from there, together with a police escort, they were to head to Little Rock's Central High School in an attempt to integrate the school. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Eckhorn's parents didn't own a phone so she didn't get the message. She arrived first and alone and was immediately surrounded by an angry white mob. Will Counts, a local photographer, was able to capture this event - a picture of a beautiful black teenager clutching her books to her chest, a stoic expression on her face. Directly behind her, among that sea of angry white faces, is a white girl about the same age as Elizabeth , her face twisted with rage and hatred. This photo would eventually win Counts a Pulitzer Prize nomination but, more importantly, it forced a nation and the world to look into the true and ugly face of racism.Author Shelley Tougas reveals this important period in America through photographs, extensive research, a comprehensive timeline, and interviews with many of the people who were involved. She discusses what led up to this moment - the Jim Crow laws which allowed segregation, the legal fight to end it, and the words and reactions of the people who risked so much for change. She also tells us what eventually happened to the Little Rock Nine both when they were finally able to enter the school (although not for long), and later in their lives.She tells the story with amazing objectivity never allowing her own opinions to colour the narrative and, in sodoing, she makes the book that much more powerful.This is a very short book (just 64 pages) aimed at children 8-14 but it is a book everyone should read. This is, in many ways, a shocking and horrible story but it is also hopeful. The Nine all went on to do much with their lives. Decades later, Will Counts took another picture of Elizabeth and Hazel, the white girl behind her, now both in their middle years. This time they are standing together. There seems to be some tension between but, clearly, they are two people seeking common ground.
This is the best book i ever read from other books this gives the excitement to learn more about what happened back them