"Blood will run in the streets if any Negro tries to defy me!" (Arkansas Governor)
Elizabeth Eckford called it "the longest block I ever walked". One of the Little Rock Nine who planned to integrate Central High School in 1957, Elizabeth was well prepared for school on that sunny September day, or so she thought. Her parents didn't own a telephone so she was not aware that the Little Rock Nine had changed their meeting place the night before. She dressed in a pretty white dress, tucked her books under her arm, and set out for school. As she approached the building, she was surrounded by an angry mob of white parents screaming "Lynch her!" Elizabeth spotted a group of soldiers and sped up, thinking that they would escort her the rest of the way. But at the school, they just blocked her entrance. With the crowd continuing to shout insults, Elizabeth spotted a bench and sat down. Suddenly, a white woman guided her by the hand to a nearby bus station. Elizabeth could not stop crying as she waited for the bus. A reporter, with a daughter the same age as Elizabeth, tried to comfort her. Finally, the bus arrived. Elizabeth climbed aboard, relieved to escape the angry mob.
Days later, Elizabeth returned to Central High School. This time, she was accompanied by the rest of the Little Rock Nine, along with members of the National Guard. It would be a rocky start to a rocky year. But Elizabeth Eckford would persevere.
Note: For more information, visit my post "Little Rock Nine" at http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2012/09/little-rock-nine.html.