Monday, July 30, 2012

ELIZABETH ECKFORD AND DOROTHY COUNTS: THE GREAT BLACK WOMEN WHO STOOD AGAINST RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AND SHAMED AMERICA



There are certain history that should never ever be forgotten by black people living every where as it shows the strength of certain individuals who stood against all forms of racial discrimination and prejudices to pave way for the current generation of black people. Whiles big-shots like Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey,W E Du Bois, Thurgwood Marshall,Malcom X,Rosa Parks et al are celebrated for their staunch opposition against Jim crow laws and racial discrimination, people should also remember others who suffered as victims and triumph over them.
The great African-American women who also made it in their own small way to contribute to the struggle and must never be forgotten are Elizabeth Eckford and Dorothy Counts. The racial discrimination against these two women actually caused a lot of international spectacle against America`s trumpeted accolade as the most democratic and free society in the world.
                       
In an article written by Jefferson Thomas in 07 Sept 2010 and the other one in 9 Oct 2011 by David Margolick under the heading "Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan: the story behind the photograph that shamed America" in the Telegraph newspaper of UK, the two writers gave a graphic impression of how our black sister Elizabeth was doing all her best to get into her new black Little Rock central high school and the stiff opposition she faced from all white students there,especially from one vociferous female white student named Hazel Bryan.

Elizabeth and Hazel, September 4, 1957
Image 1 of Bryan taunted and hooted at Elizabeth showing glaringly to her that blacks do not belong in their school
Elizabeth and Hazel, September 4, 1957 Photo: Will Counts Collection, Indiana University Archives


Margolick writes that “on her first morning of school, September 4 1957, Elizabeth Eckford’s primary concern was looking nice. Her mother had done her hair the night before; an elaborate two-hour ritual, with a hot iron and a hotter stove, of straightening and curling. Then there were her clothes. People in black Little Rock knew that the Eckford girls were expert seamstresses; practically everything they wore they made themselves, and not from the basic patterns of McCall’s but from the more complicated ones in Vogue. It was a practice borne of tradition, pride, and necessity: homemade was cheaper, and it spared black children the humiliation of having to ask to try things on in the segregated department stores downtown.me a lawyer, and she thought Central would help her realise that dream.
On the television as Elizabeth ate her breakfast, a newsman described large crowds gathering around Central. It was all her mother, Birdie, needed to hear. “Turn that thing off!” she shouted. Should anyone say something nasty at her, she counselled Elizabeth, pretend not to hear them. Or better yet, be nice, and put them to shame.Lots of white people lined Park Street as Elizabeth headed towards the school. As she passed the Mobil station and came nearer, she could see the white students filtering unimpeded past the soldiers. To her, it was a sign that everything was all right. But as she herself approached, three Guardsmen, two with rifles, held out their arms, directing her to her left, to the far side of Park.”

Reconciliation; Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan and reunited for Will Counts's poster
Image 2 of 2
Reconciliation; Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan are reunited for Will Counts's poster Photo: WILL COUNTS



Jefferson`s article chronicled the odyssey of hatred that was exhibited by Hazel towards Elizabeth and how they two women finally reconciled in their later years after school. he writes that "One girl, Hazel Bryan, looked livid, her face poisoned with hate. As Benjamin Fine of The New York Times later described her, she was “screaming, just hysterical, just like one of these Elvis Presley hysterical deals, where these kids are fainting with hysteria”. Her eyes narrowed, her brow furrowed, her teeth clenched, Hazel shouted: “Go home, nigger! Go back to A-”. 
It is so refreshing that these two personalities were reconciled by a lawyer/writer and their story is comforting for us all. Kindly follow the rest of the story here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/8813134/Elizabeth-Eckford-and-Hazel-Bryan-the-story-behind-the-photograph-that-shamed-America.html and get the copy of the book by David margolick "Elizabeth and Hazel
In the fall of 1957, Elizabeth was among the nine black students who had enlisted, then been selected, to enter Little Rock Central High School.
Central was the first high school in a major southern city set to be desegregated since the United States Supreme Court had ruled three years earlier in Brown vs Board of Education that separate and ostensibly equal education was unconstitutional. Inspired both by Thurgood Marshall, who had argued the case of plaintiff Oliver L Brown, and Clarence Darrow, Elizabeth wanted to becoel" here: http://books.telegraph.co.uk/BerteShopWeb/viewProduct.do?ISBN=9780300141931


AND HERE COMETH DOROTHY COUNTS
.Dorothy Counts was the first black student to be enrolled into Harding High School, Carolina. This 1957 image gives us an idea of the taunts and unnecessary humiliation she had to face during the time. What was once accepted as a part of social behavior is today rightly condemned as racism. This image reminds us of what society was like, not too long ago.




Where Are They Now?: Dorothy Counts," 

the writer notes that "On the morning of September 4, 1957, fifteen-year-old Dorothy Counts set out on a harrowing path toward Harding High, where-as the first African American to attend the all-white school -she was greeted by a jeering swarm of boys who spat, threw trash, and yelled epithets at her as she entered the building.
Charlotte Observer photographer Don Sturkey captured the ugly incident on film, and in the days that followed, the searing image appeared not just in the local paper but in newspapers around the world.
People everywhere were transfixed by the girl in the photograph who stood tall, her five-foot-ten-inch frame towering nobly above the mob that trailed her. There, in black and white, was evidence of the brutality of racism, a sinister force that had led children to torment another child while adults stood by.
A week later, the girl in the photograph was gone. Her parents -having been told by the school administrators and police officials that they could not guarantee her safety -sent her to live with a relative in suburban Philadelphia, where she could peacefully attend an integrated school.
Rather than permanently quitting the city that failed her, she moved back three years later to earn her degree from Johnson C. Smith University and, except for a couple early years spent living in New York City, she has lived here ever since. (http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/August-2010/Where-are-They-Now/Dorothy-Counts/


Dorothy Counts—being jeered and taunted by her white, male peers. This photo encompasses a lot of things that must be hated: prejudice, ignorance, racism, sexism, inequality…


Dorothy Counts was taunted by, spit on, and harassed by other white classmates during her first four days of school. However, despite the uninviting atmosphere, she pressed on for 3 more days (before dropping out and moving to Pennsylvania for safety reasons) and became one of the first students in a line of many to integrate public schools.

dorothy-counts-2.jpg


In some ways, her actions and the actions of those like her helped spur on social reform during the Civil right movement in the 1950s and on. Her courage to press on and walk through the halls of Harry Harding High School made her a part of an ugly piece of American history and walking proof that few people can really change a lot.

Dorothy Counts Walks To Harding High School.

Dorothy Counts now Mrs Dorothy Counts-Scoggins rather than permanently quitting the city that failed her, she moved back three years later to earn her degree from Johnson C. Smith University and, except for a couple early years spent living in New York City, she has lived here ever since.


Dorthy Counts
Counts being interviewed after the very school that
jeered at her has one of its school buildings named
after her.

Elizabeth Eckford and Dorothy counts` story must serve as a source of inspiration for every Black person living everywhere and should motivate them that no matter the odds against them with just a little perseverance success would be theirs. Black women should know that they are great and strong and that nothing can obstruct their aim of succeeding in life. Our African history is filled with the heroic feats of women like Queen Sheba and Zewditu of Ethiopia,Ndola Ann Nzingha of Angola,Yaa Asantewaa of Ghana et al and that what both Eckford and Count`s did in the face of the massive discrimination and hatred was just the genetic expression of how hard our African women are. Let us all celebrate them for they triumph in their quest for di-segregation of schools.

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins may be found here on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dorothy.countsscoggins



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