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.
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.
(Photo Credit: Will Counts Collection, Indiana University Archives)