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Elizabeth Eckford, the Little Rock Nine, and Respect

Margolick, David. Elizabeth And Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2011.

‘Elizabeth and Hazel’: The Legacy of Little Rock.

CENTRAL QUESTION: Why is respect important in a society that values individual liberty?

Before class, post the following: Respect: To protect your mind and body as precious aspects of your identity. To extend that protection to every other person you encounter.

Before launching a brief, introductory discussion, set a key ground rule: Only those present may be topics of discussion, and only with their permission. Ask students how this simple ground rule is a way of showing respect to others.

Then, ask: “Have you ever embarrassed or even humiliated yourself, or been embarrassed or humiliated by someone else, in a fairly public way?” (Students’ responses may include “in-person” or social media experiences.)

Follow up with:

  • What made it awkward? Difficult?
  • What was your reaction at the time? How did you handle it afterward?
  • If an apology was needed, was it offered? Why or why not? What makes apologies difficult in those circumstances? How does offering an apology show respect? Do any other civic virtues play a part?
  • If you were in this situation, or in another one, the person who has ever “learned a lesson the hard way” by being the one who embarrassed or hurt another person, what exactly is the lesson you learned?
  • Refer to the word “responsibility”—along with its definition—that you posted earlier.
  • Ask: How is everything we’ve just been discussing related to this definition of respect?
  • How is respect related to civil discourse?
  • How does the freedom we have in our society sometimes lead to these kinds of situations?

Assign students to groups of 3 or 4 to discuss the central question: Why is respect important in a society that values individual liberty?

Bring the class together for a large-group discussion of the question before transitioning to the Primary Source Activity.

The optional introductory activity above is designed to support you in the classroom. However, the primary narratives and photos in the section that follows can be used with or without this introduction.