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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Elizabeth & Hazel

Elizabeth Eckford, the first black student admitted to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Photograph by Will Counts, 1957

The story of Hazel Bryan (now Hazel Massery) — the young white woman yelling in the background of the famous Little Rock Nine photo — also somewhat fascinates me in a way. Several years after this photo was taken, Massery looked up Eckford’s number in the phone book and called to apologize. Through the years, Massery also seems to have been involved with a number of projects helping low-income minorities.

At the 40th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School, photographer Will Counts (who took the original picture) took a “reconciliation” photo of the women (above). The two were even close friends for awhile, though it seems to have dissolved over the past decade, from what (in my woefully under-informed opinion) appears to be hurt feelings on the part of Massery for the lack of recognition with regards to her attempts at making amends over the years for her actions in 1957.

It’s just a really fascinatingly complex story between the two women that I think of whenever I see this photo.

If you’re interested, David Margolick wrote a piece for Vanity Fair in 2007 and then another for Slate last year (his book about the two women also came out last year).

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