From Library Journal
The world has often heard about the desegregation crisis at Little Rock Central High School in 1957-58, and many have wondered how such a conflict could have exploded in that small Southern city, which heretofore had been noted for moderation. The author reveals that only five days after the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown decision, the Little Rock School Board announced it would end the segregated school system. Within a year, the board adopted a plan to integrate in stages. Photographer and author Counts, who had just started working as a photographer for the Arkansas Democrat, one of the town's two dailies, presents here his recollectionsAand photographsAof the event that put Little Rock on the map in the worst light. In this spare and accurate account, he makes a case for why the tragedy might never have occurred were it not for a governor, Orval Faubus, determined to resuscitate a flagging career by playing the race card to the hilt. Counts relates Faubus's refusal to allow black students to enter Central High until President Eisenhower sent in troops to enforce integration; the next year, Faubus closed all the high schools for a year until a court order forced them to reopen. This probing recollection is almost a primer of how one man disrupted a community for years to come. [The reviewer was a senior at Little Rock Central High during the desegregation crisis.AEd.]AEdward Cone, New Yor.-AEdward Cone, New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
As a new photographer with the Arkansas Democrat
, Counts was sent to cover the desegregation of his alma mater, Central High School in Little Rock, in 1957. His ties to the town and to the school helped him blend in and take stunning photos of the social upheaval that resulted when the nine enrolling black students faced virulent resistance by most white citizens, including the governor, Orval Faubus. The text includes interviews with some of the black students integrating the school, including Elizabeth Eckford, a black girl tormented by the mob. Among the essays is one by Hazel Bryan, who was captured by Counts' camera jeering Eckford in a photo that portrayed Bryan in that moment as the "poster child of the hate generation." Counts also photographed the fortieth anniversary commemoration of the race crisis in Little Rock. This book is a powerful and moving reminder of a painful time in U.S. history and the lingering legacy of racism. Vanessa Bush