The Worst First Day: Bullied While Desegregating Central High by Elizabeth Eckford, Eurydice Stanley, and Grace Stanley is a non-fiction memoir of what happened in the early days of desegregation and, specifically, when a young girl became the first black student to enter an all-white school for the first time at the Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. In this book, we hear a firsthand account of this experience from Elizabeth Eckford, the young black girl who was part of the now-historic Little Rock Nine. She recounts the fear, the intimidation, the bullying, and threats of violence that she and the other students underwent throughout that period. The book also showcases a lot of photographs and illustrations of those times which show that the hate and violence against African Americans was and is so real and virulent. The book also includes short anecdotes, information, and other relevant resources related to the topic of racism and what it means in today’s world.
The Worst First Day is one of the finest books I have read and is a must-read for young adults and adults alike. It is even more important and relevant in today’s era where the younger generation may not have a complete sense of what it was like in the days of legal segregation and pre-Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. Some of the experiences that are recounted in this book are eye-opening and sorely needed at a time when racism is still alive and truly well in America as in many other parts of the world. The writing and flow of this book are very well organized and the pictures truly bring the story and the era to life. Books like this not only teach a part of history but also provide a better path for the future through awareness. I highly recommend this book for every young student and for readers everywhere!