Eckford, Elizabeth, 1941-


Elizabeth Ann Eckford made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The image of fifteen-year-old Eckford, walking alone through a screaming mob in front of Central High School, propelled the crisis into the nation's living rooms and brought international attention to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Eckford was awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as were the rest of the Little Rock Nine and Daisy Bates, in 1958. In 1997, Elizabeth Eckford shared the Father Joseph Biltz Award (presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice) with Hazel Bryan Massery, a segregationist classmate who appears in the famous Will Counts photograph, and during the reconciliation rally of 1997, the two former adversaries made speeches together. In 1999, President Bill Clinton presented the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the Little Rock Nine. She is currently a probation officer in Little Rock and is the mother of two sons. -- Encylopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.

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