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avatar for Elizabeth Eckford

Elizabeth Eckford

Little Rock, AR
Elizabeth Eckford was the first member of the Little Rock Nine to face an enraged mob of segregationists September 4, 1957 while attempting to desegregate Central High. While only a teen, she bravely withstood being blocked from school by Army soldiers. An image taken of her attack showed the world the face of discrimination versus the poise of resilience and became one of the best photographs of the twentieth century, sparking global outcry against racism and discrimination. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne to ensure the safe passage of the courageous students, later replaced by members of the Arkansas Army National Guard.The Little Rock Nine endured verbal, physical and mental attacks every day while attending Little Rock Central High. They remained at the school because they were committed to ensuring the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 was implemented. Due to their efforts and those of many other civil rights icons to ensure all children had access to the best education possible, schools that formerly segregated are now diverse and inclusive. The daughter of Birdie and Oscar Eckford, Eckford is one of six siblings. She attended Central High for one year before the school was shut down by Governor Orval Faubus to prevent desegregation. Afterward, Eckford attended Knox College for a year and later joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) for five years serving as a pay clerk and an information specialist at Fort Benjamin Harrison and Fort McClellan Alabama. After leaving the military, Eckford held a variety of positions before returning to Little Rock to surround herself with family as she raised her children. She achieved her goal of obtaining a degree by earning her BA in history from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio and served as a Probation Officer for County Circuit Court Judge Marion Humphrey for ten years, retiring in 2009. Eckford has received numerous awards as a member of the Little Rock Nine for their contributions to society to include the Congressional Gold Medal, our nation's highest civilian award, a postage stamp from the United States Postal Service, a commemorative one-dollar coin from the United States Mint and an honorary doctorate from Knox College. She continues to reside in her beloved Little Rock.

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Monday, April 29

8:45am CDT