The Worst First Day: Bullied While Desegregating Central High introduces the next generation to Elizabeth Eckford, a modern-day heroine. On Sept. 4, 1957, Eckford was the first African American student to arrive at Little Rock Central High to desegregate the school. She was blocked from entry by Arkansas National Guard soldiers under the direction of Governor Orval Faubus and faced an incensed crowd of segregationists alone. A photograph taken by Will Counts of 15-year-old Elizabeth surrounded by bullies showed the world "the face" of discrimination...and it did not like what it saw. The image was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and became one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, making Elizabeth one of the most recognized teens in the world.
Demonstrations and attacks at Central High compelled President Eisenhower to send in military soldiers, the 101st Airborne, to ensure the safe passage of Elizabeth and the other courageous members of the Little Rock Nine. Many assume the story ended with their entry into school, escorted by the 101st Airborne, but that was only the beginning! Elizabeth and the Nine were bullied and terrorized for the entire school year by fellow students, parents, teachers, school administrators and citizens. Her experiences help readers empathize with issues that currently impact students today, from bias to bullying.
In this epic story, Elizabeth's historical insights are shared completely in verse, illuminated by captivating images that will both educate and inspire readers of all ages. The determination of the Little Rock Nine helped implement the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954, leading to the beautiful diversity seen in today's schools. The tenacity of the nine students resulted in history recognizing them as critical influences of the civil rights movement. They serve as an exemplary example for today's leaders.
Elizabeth Eckford's first book shares the back story of the crisis at Central High from her perspective in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the school's desegregation. Her experiences will inspire readers of all ages, and gives new meaning to the importance of resilience after a "bad day". Elizabeth's autobiography is an encouragement to anyone facing seemingly insurmountable odds to follow her lead and #WalkPastHate.