Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lee Lorch, a figure in Little Rock's '57 crisis, dies at 98

Posted By on Sun, Mar 2, 2014 at 8:14 AM

click to enlarge ONE FRIEND: Grace Lorch comforts Elizabeth Eckford in 1957. - NATIONAL ARCHIVES
  • National Archives
  • ONE FRIEND: Grace Lorch comforts Elizabeth Eckford in 1957.

The New York Times carried
 a lengthy obituary yesterday on desegregation activist Lee Lorch, a college teacher whose work in breaking down segregation barriers in Manhattan housing was his lead accomplishment. But he also played a  role in the Little Rock school desegregation crisis in 1957.

David Margolick, who wrote the obituary and who wrote "Elizabeth and Hazel," the sharp examination of the famous photograph of Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine being abused as she walked alone to Central High School, provides that story. After being fired at Fisk University for his activism in 1955, Lorch got a job at Philander Smith College in Little Rock the next year. His wife, Grace, was an activist, too.

It was Grace Lorch who made the headlines the following year, for comforting Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine after Ms. Eckford’s walk through a group of angry hecklers outside Little Rock Central High School, a moment captured in a famous photograph. Mr. Lorch, who had become an official with the Arkansas chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., was working behind the scenes, accompanying the black students to school, then tutoring them as they awaited admission.

Once more whites abused the Lorches for their activities, evicting them from their apartment, harassing their young daughter, burning a cross on their lawn and placing dynamite in their garage. And black leaders, mindful of Mr. Lorch’s Communist associations, kept their distance.

“Thurgood Marshall has been busy poisoning as many people as he can against us,” Mr. Lorch complained in October 1957, referring to the lawyer leading the N.A.A.C.P.’s desegregation campaign in the courts and, later, a justice of the United States Supreme Court. The group’s field secretary, Clarence Laws, wrote Mr. Lorch: “The best contribution you could make to the cause of full citizenship for Negroes in Arkansas at this time would be to terminate, in writing, your affiliation with the Little Rock Branch, N.A.A.C.P.”

When, at the end of the school year, Philander Smith declined to renew Mr. Lorch’s appointment, it was official: No American college would have him. So in 1959, he moved his family to Canada ..

There's a great deal more on the Lorches history here on a website from Canada where he ultimately found long tenure as a teacher and where he died. The link includes the outpouring of world response Grace Lorch received after going to comfort Eckford.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • War. What is it good for? Tom Cotton has an idea

    Twenty-four hours after meddling in President Obama's talks with Iran, hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton scheduled an off-the-record meeting with defense contractors, who'd be happy to supply goods for U.S. armed incursions in the Middle East.
    • Mar 9, 2015
  • National Review takes down Huckabee presidential candidacy with 'reality check'

    Quin Hilyer, a former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial writer, writes for National Review a good summary of all the reasons Mike Huckabee makes a poor 2016 presidential candidate. A "reality check," he calls it.
    • Jan 26, 2015
  • How the nursing home lobby plans to sidestep tort reform blockade

    Why, you ask, does the nursing home lobby hold an open house for lunch and cocktails in a Capitol Hill apartment most days the legislature is in session? Aren't they already well taken care of with profitable reimbursement rates, rhanks to the bed tax, and haven't they stocked the judiciary with judges elected with their campaign contributions?
    • Feb 11, 2015

Most Shared

  • Everything new is old when it comes to Arkansas education

    Depressed yet? No? Then read Ernest Dumas' prediction of what's likely to come of a new way of providing state money to higher education — money allocated on performance.
  • AAC: In the black

    The leadership of the Arkansas Arts Center announced at its annual meeting and luncheon today that it has just completed its sixth year in the black, continuing its recovery from a budget black hole created by an expensive blockbuster exhibition, "World of the Pharaohs."

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation