By Elisabeth Åsbrink

AWARD-WINNING ELISABETH ÅSBRINK writes the biography of Gloria Ray Karlmark, one of the Little Rock Nine. 

GLORIA RAY WAS 14 years old when she was stopped by armed white soldiers from entering Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. The year was 1957 and the governor of Arkansas refused to allow her and eight other Black teenagers to enter the all-white school. ‘That day my childhood ended,’ Gloria says today.

GLORIA RAY AND the others in the Little Rock Nine were the first to act on the 1954 Supreme Court decision that ruled the segregation of Black and white children in American schools unconstitutional. Arkansas’ resistance to the decision was so strong and violent that President Dwight Eisenhower was forced to deploy elite armed troops to escort the nine Black children to school every day.

THE INCIDENT BECAME world news and a pawn in the Cold War, as well as a shocking exposure of racism in America. The Little Rock Nine are now icons in the history of the American civil rights movement.

BUT THE PRICE was high. They endured harassment, death threats and violence, and their parents and siblings suffered greatly, as did those who supported their fight for justice. In the end, the governor of Arkansas closed all public schools instead of allowing African-American children to mix with whites, and thousands of young people were affected by the decision.

GLORIA IS THE story of that year that would change her life, but also of the American racism and slavery it grew out of, inextricably linked in the story of the United States. Elisabeth Åsbrink with her eloquent narration, distinct voice, and unique ability to crack open key moments of conflict, oppression, and inequality by weaving together strands of personal and national history.

To be published by Polaris, Fall 2024

Sweden, Polaris