To the Editor:
Louis Masur ("The Limits of Forgiveness," The Chronicle Review, October 21) casts an appropriate shadow of warning about the truth of photography in his response to David Margolick's Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock.
Masur says the photograph including Elizabeth and Hazel was taken on September 4, 1957, "on the first day of what would be a tumultuous year at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., as nine black students sought to desegregate the all-white school." Yet on that very day, Will Counts, the same photographer whose picture is the basis for Margolick's re-examination, took a picture of other black students being confronted by a National Guardsman. The photograph includes Carlotta Walls, Gloria Ray, and Ernest Green, and behind Gloria is a girl named Jane Hill.
So on September 4 there were at least 10 black students attempting to enter Central High. Hill never returned, and, if there were others, nor did they. It is true that nine students eventually made it into the school, but not until September 23, for a brief few hours before being whisked away, not to return until September 25, under escort of some 1,000 soldiers of the 101st Airborne.
The picture that includes Hill was reprinted in Carlotta Walls LaNier's 2009 book, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School. As far as I know, the accompanying identification is the first in print; Carlotta just happened to know her. Jane's story, about why she was there that first day and why she did not return, is not part of the historical record—except as she appears, for more than a half-century unnamed, in the photograph.
Margaret Earley Whitt
Professor Emerita of English
University of Denver