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Autobiography of Little Rock Nine’s Elizabeth Eckford Wins 2019 Indie Author Legacy Awards

“The Worst First Day: Bullied While Desegregating Central High” Receives IALA Top Children’s Book Honor

Little Rock, Arkansas, United States – WEBWIRE
Co-author Dr. Eurydice Stanley proudly displays The Worst First Day’s 2019 Indie Author Legacy Award.
Co-author Dr. Eurydice Stanley proudly displays The Worst First Day’s 2019 Indie Author Legacy Award.

“I speak so forcefully against bullying because I want students know they aren’t alone." - Elizabeth Eckford

The autobiography of Civil Rights Icon Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine received the 2019 Indie Author Legacy Awards top children’s book honor June 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. Co-authors Dr. Eurydice and Grace Stanley accepted the international writing award on Eckford’s behalf. “We are extremely proud of this award in particular because a primary criterion for selection is the book’s impact within the community,” said Dr. Stanley. “Our anti-bullying message is connecting with audiences.  It is rewarding to know we’re making a difference.”

“The Worst First Day” details Eckford’s harrowing experiences while desegregating Little Rock Central High in 1957. The book is a civil rights primer written in verse, featuring compelling images from the era and captivating graphic artwork. Eckford became widely recognized for Will Counts’ Pulitzer-Prize nominated photo taken as she attempted to attend Central High while being threatened by enraged segregationists. Although only 15 years old, Eckford remained stoic behind sunglasses. The image became one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century.

Eckford and the Little Rock Nine persevered through a year of physical, verbal and psychological attacks at the hands of their Central High peers. They received no assistance from apathetic teachers and school administrators. Having survived that experience, Eckford empathizes with the rising number of students who report being bullied in school. Eckford and the Stanley’s wrote the book because they wanted to promote resilience in students who may considering suicide their only recourse to bullying. As written in “The Worst First Day,” “…give tomorrow one more day!”

“I speak so forcefully against bullying because I want students know they aren’t alone,” says Eckford. “It is important that students know they can literally save someone’s life by reaching out and showing compassion to a classmate.”

The Indie Author Legacy Awards (IALA), sponsored by Black Enterprise, honors impact-centered writers who serve as unsung heroes within their communities. They celebrate the efforts of authors who use their gift of writing as a tool to influence others through community engagement, business ownership and generational legacy-building. The IALA is produced by Purposely Created Publishing Group, an international award-winning publishing firm, notably recognized for publishing books that raise social awareness, education and personal transformation.

“The Indie Author Legacy Awards is an empowerment initiative and revolutionary platform that is unparalleled in the independent author niche market,” said Tieshena Davis, CEO of Purposely Created Publishing Group and founder of the awards.

The authors present “The Worst First Day” at venues across the country and are scheduling speaking engagements for the upcoming school year from schools, colleges and universities. “We hope to bring Elizabeth’s timely, powerful message to every student in America,” said Stanley. “Anyone who has personally experienced bullying understands how important it is to receive support and encouragement.”

Eckford understands the importance of support. She speaks fondly of the only two white students who were kind to her while at Central High, Ann Williams Wedaman and Kendall Reinhardt. “They talked to me like I was a human being,” said Eckford. “Their kindness saved my life.” During presentations she shares how the actions of Ann and Ken made such a difference, which is one reason why she encourages students to speak to those being bullied. “I never ask anyone to intervene when someone is being bullied and potentially be hurt or in a fight,” said Eckford. “All I ask is that they speak kindly. The impact can be profound.” 

Kirkus Book Review described “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 book’s central message is #WalkPastHate. It is a truth that Eckford most assuredly followed in her own life.

“The Worst First Day,” published by Lamp Press, is available on Amazon at

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 Elizabeth Eckford
 Black Enterprise

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