Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine will present her account of the integration of Central High School in her book The Worst First Day: Bullied While Desegregating Central High during the sixteenth annual Arkansas Literary Festival at 2:30 p.m. April 27 at the Ron Robinson Theater.

Nine African-American students succeeded in their attempts to exercise their legal rights to attend public schools in 1957, despite backlash from governing officials and white mobs.

Eckford recorded her experiences as a 15-year-old black student bullied in a majority white school in The Worst First Day (with co-authors Eurydice Stanley and Grace Stanley), written 60 years after the school’s desegregation. The story expresses the importance of people standing up for those who are bullied, according to a press release.

She expresses the pain and abuse she and the others felt during their time at Central High. She said the worst experiences came from the students who stayed silent.

Eckford has shared her story for nearly 20 years, and her book highlights how importance kindness and acceptance is for change.

She has received numerous awards for her contribution to the Civil Rights Movement, including the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Literary Festival’s goal is to inspire a more literate population, according to the website. This year they’ve added more music, a Maker’s fair, more children’s programs, a mindfulness and book club panel and new authors.

Most presentations are free and open to the public. Tickets are required for both cooking workshops, for the Italian Table Workshop at 4:00 April 27 are $15 and tickets for the Everyday Dorie Workshop at 1:30 on April 28 are $15. Tickets for the Author! Author! banquet on April 26 at 7:00 will be $25 in advance and $40 at the door.

For more information visit https://cals.org/arkansasliteraryfestival-org/.