Monday, June 25, 2012

Little Rock Girl, 1957 by Shelley Tougas

My daughters and I found this book during a trip to the library, and it has been a wonderful opportunity to share history with them as well as talk about the destructive nature of racism. The first thing that they noticed from the cover was Hazel Bryan's distorted face as she spewed racial slurs at Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine. My response to them was, "Isn't it terrible that this young girl will always be remembered for her hatred towards another person?" And, one daughter responded, "She should have tried to be Elizabeth's friend." Such a simple response, yer so few people could fathom it in 1957.

As I read this book with my daughters and explained the Civil Rights Movement, they were appalled that people were beaten and murdered simply because they wanted equality. Although the book isn't written to be emotional, there were times that I caught myself choking up at the sheer cruelty that people, "Christian" people, showed African Americans during this time. To know that Elizabeth Eckford was fifteen at the time, and grown adults (mothers, even) shouted to string her up in a tree to prevent her from entering Central High School, makes my skin crawl.

I know that many people like to pretend that racism doesn’t exist today. Maybe minority women aren’t kicked off of buses anymore for refusing to give up their seats, but racism exists in many forms. I just hope that there are enough of us teaching our children to look at the content of a person’s character rather than the color of skin to offset the consuming hatred that fuels bigotry.

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