When a soldier asked who, the white students just laughed. Apart from being the most vulnerable, she was also the most symbolically potent: if only they could drive out the girl who had come to epitomise the Nine, the segregationists may have hoped, the others would quickly follow, and the whole integrationist edifice would crumble.Elizabeth had to be coaxed into participating in the 40th anniversary celebrations in 1997, even though they promised to be the most glorious yet: President Bill Clinton would preside.
Though all of The Nine got letters, Elizabeth got far and away the most, as many as 50 a day.
The Arkansas Gazette marvelled at how the events had united in their outrage the newspapers of the Vatican, the Kremlin and a country whose leader had snubbed Jesse Owens only 20 years earlier.
The story and picture led off the Little Rock coverage in Paris Match.
The next morning, Elizabeth and Hazel landed on millions of doorsteps.
Elizabeth became, as Ted Poston of the New York Post put it, “probably the most widely known high school student in the whole United States”, with the unidentified white girl to her running a close second.