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April is Key Month for “The Worst First Day,” Autobiography of Civil Rights Icon Elizabeth Eckford

Themes of Black Women’s History And Poetry Converge in Autobiography

Little Rock, Arkansas, United States – WEBWIRE

“The book was written in verse to encourage literacy in young readers while maintaining the interest of readers of all ages,” said Eckford.

The month of April represents both Black Women’s History and National Poetry Month, topics that converge in Civil Rights Icon Elizabeth Eckford’s first autobiography, “The Worst First Day: Bullied While Desegregating Central High.” The book, written in verse, shares Eckford’s traumatic experiences as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the first courageous African American students to desegregate Little Rock Central High in 1957.

“The Worst First Day” is a civil rights primer interwoven through the life of a living civil rights legend. “The book was written in verse to encourage literacy in young readers while maintaining the interest of readers of all ages,” said Eckford. “We were spat upon, kicked, beaten and attacked every day. We stayed at Central High because we knew there were so many other students counting on our success.”

The book was co-authored by Eurydice and Grace Stanley, a mother-daughter team who live in Pensacola, Florida. Eurydice Stanley met Eckford while researching her dissertation and the two have remained friends for more than 20 years. High school sophomore Grace Stanley has heard Eckford’s stories since she was a toddler. She was 15 when she helped write “The Worst First Day,” the same age Eckford was when she first attempted to attend Central High. “Elizabeth Eckford has been an incredible role model to me my entire life,” said Stanley. “I am excited to share the messages of courage and resilience she shared with me with as many readers as possible, especially students who are being bullied.  We want to give them hope.”

“The Worst First Day” recounts the back story of the crisis at Central High from Eckford’s purview as a member of the Little Rock Nine. Little Rock proved to be critical to the implementation of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 which will commemorate 65 years on May 17, 2019. The book discusses the Brown decision and how the NAACP legal defense team, led by Thurgood Marshall, proved segregation and discrimination had a detrimental impact on a child’s self-esteem. Eckford’s book attempts to promote positive self-imagery to combat bullying and the rising influx of student suicides. She encourages readers to recognize the power of their words because “…they can bring change by supporting someone who is being harassed.”

Kirkus Reviews describes “The Worst First Day” as “A powerful recollection of the horrors encountered—and the battles won—in the fight for integration, and an urgent call to oppose today’s social and political oppression.” “The Worst First Day” has reached children’s book best-seller status on Amazon and maintains a 5-star review. Foreword writes, “‘The Worst First Day’ is an accessible history of segregation and racism that encourages critical thinking.”

Eckford continues to tell her story to encourage others who may be bullied or face seemingly insurmountable challenges. “The Worst First Day” writing team will be featured at the Arkansas Literary Festival in Little Rock, Arkansas April 27, 2019 in the Ron Robinson Theater at 2:30 p.m. “The response to “The Worst First Day” has been truly humbling,” said Eckford. “I consider this book to be my legacy, and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to influence the next generation.”

“The Worst First Day” is a 2018 Moonbeam Multicultural Nonfiction Gold Children’s book award recipient and was recently named as a children’s book finalist in the Indie Author Legacy Awards (IALA). “This recognition means so much to us because it not only recognizes books for their excellence, but also the impact of the author’s work within the community,” said co-author Eurydice Stanley. The IALA award winner will be announced June 29th in Baltimore, Maryland. Win or lose, Eckford will continue to tell her story to combat bullying. “This journey has been challenging, but most rewarding,” said Eckford.

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 Elizabeth Eckford
 Brown v Board

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