Will Counts Collection/Indiana University Archives.
“True reconciliation can occur only when we honestly acknowledge our painful, but shared, past.” – Elizabeth Eckford.
Those words are on a sticker attached to a poster titled “Reconciliation,” which features a photograph of the present-day Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan. The sticker was added after Eckford and Bryan’s relationship ended. Some details here. You can also read author David Margolick’s interview here. Here’s what he had to say about the rift:
One of them is stubborn and proud, and the other is hurt and proud, and they won’t come back together again. Elizabeth is willing to. Hazel is not.
What Hazel has [to] say to explain her disappointment and hurt is important for people to hear. She speaks for a lot of people who have tried to bridge these racial gaps and have been disappointed.
No one tried as hard as she did, although maybe nobody had as much of an obligation to do it as she did. She’s very clear that she shamed her country, state and family, and she’s well aware of how egregious what she did was. She’s led a good life and has tried to do the right thing.
She’s very hurt and stung. It ended up being so thankless that she said to hell with everyone. She won’t speak about it again.
Elizabeth judged Hazel very sharply, and no [one] has more standing to be skeptical than Elizabeth. But even people who’ve been hurt, but maybe particularly those who have been hurt, sometimes need to summon as much forgiveness as they can. Friends sometimes have to be forgiving, especially when elements of the underlying connection are still there.
When I read this, it came across as a typical privileged viewpoint. The thankless role of being a good white person, because the person of color just can’t let it go.