The two of them appeared in one of the most famous photos ever taken in American history. It was voted one of the ten most influential photos ever in the history of our country. It is a photo taken in 1956 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth is walking into Little Rock Central High School for her first time much against the wishes and approval of most of those who would be her classmates. The photograph shows Hazel standing just behind Elizabeth, and Hazel’s disapproval is very evident. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; this picture is worth many thousands. This is the beginning of school integration in the South.
Fast forward six years later, and Hazel gives Elizabeth a call. Yes, it was an awkward meeting, but Hazel’s actions on that day in 1956 had continued to bother her, and she felt she needed to apologize. She said that picture had continued to haunt her. “I don’t want to be remembered in that way the rest of my life.” Over time the two of them became friends. Maturity began to set in for this one who realized her actions and treatment of another was wrong and not what it should have been. To say everything between them is perfect would be a stretch, but now they have come to some reconciliation.
When our actions are not what they should be or have been in the past, then change needs to occur. We can try to change and improve. When people look at that picture today, they don’t have to look at Hazel with the opinion they may have had years ago in 1956. People can change.
As said earlier, what we once were, we don’t always have to be.
November 14, 2011