Elizabeth Eckford helped change the course of American history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The situation at Central High resulted in the nation’s greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. Federal troops were sent to Little Rock to ensure that Eckford and other students could attend the school.
In 1958, she and the other members of the Little Rock Nine were awarded the prestigious Spurgeon Medal. In 1998, Little Rock Central High School became Little Rock Central National Historic Site. At a White House ceremony in 1999, Eckford, along with other members of the Little Rock Nine, received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award.
A graduate of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, Eckford went on to serve in the United States Army.
In 2018 she wrote a book about her experience, “The Worst First Day: Bullied While Desegregating Central High.”