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When the South began integrate their schools in the late 50’s, all attention was on nine black students joining Arkansas’s Little Rock Central High School. The Little Rock Nine became the face of a movement as they battled discrimination and hatred while trying to get an education. Melba Patillo Beals was one of those teenagers, and this searing memoir is one of the classic texts of the Civil Rights Movement. This is an incredible book, and I recommend it to all teens.
In this essential autobiographical account by one of the Civil Rights Movement’s most powerful figures, Melba Pattillo Beals of the Little Rock Nine explores not only the oppressive force of racism, but the ability of young people to change ideas of race and identity.
In 1957, well before Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Melba Pattillo Beals and eight other teenagers became iconic symbols for the Civil Rights Movement and the dismantling of Jim Crow in the American South as they integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in the wake of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education.
Throughout her harrowing ordeal, Melba was taunted by her schoolmates and their parents, threatened by a lynch mob’s rope, attacked with lighted sticks of dynamite, and injured by acid sprayed in her eyes. But through it all, she acted with dignity and courage, and refused to back down.
Warriors Don’t Cry is, at times, a difficult but necessary reminder of the valuable lessons we can learn from our nation’s past. It is a story of courage and the bravery of a handful of young, black students who used their voices to influence change during a turbulent time.
About the Author
Melba Pattillo Beals is a journalist and member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were the first to integrate Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.