LITTLE ROCK (Talk Business & Politics) — Elizabeth Eckford only had one concern before her first day of school. She wanted to make sure her white dress was finished so she could wear it. The next morning she was wearing the dress as her father paced back and forth in the hallway. She took a city bus to Little Rock Central High School. It was Sept. 4, 1957.
A rancorous crowd met her. Soldiers guarded the entry ways into the school. She was supposed to be one of the first nine black students to integrate the school. The other eight went with a group of ministers, but Eckford didn’t have a phone and they couldn’t reach her to tell her they planned to go as a group. At every entrance she was turned away. Whites, angry about the desegregation effort, yelled and spat at her as she walked, alone. She decided to return to the bus stop and return home. A pair of sunglasses hid the emotions that boiled inside.
“I was glad I had on those sunglasses … at least some people would not see me crying,” Eckford said.
Eckford became known as one of the “Little Rock Nine” and their story became a symbolic moment in the Civil Rights movement. Film director Sonia Lowman was working on an exhibit commemorating the Little Rock Nine at the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kan., two years ago when she had an idea. She had no film making experience, but she wanted to direct a documentary about how even after 60 years the inequities in the nation’s school systems were still prevalent. The film, “Teach Us All” is set to premiere Sept. 25 on Netflix, and will be shown at theaters throughout the country in the coming weeks. At least 25 people attached to the Arkansas education system, including Eckford were interviewed for the film.
To read the full story and watch a trailer for the documentary, click HERE.