Warriors Don't Cry
Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals, the author describes what her
reactions and feelings are to the racial hatred and discrimination she and eight
other African-American teenagers received in Little Rock, Arkansas during the
desegregation period in 1957. She tells the story of the nine students from the
time she turned sixteen years old and began keeping a diary until her final days
at Central High School in Little Rock. The story begins by Melba talking about
the anger, hatred, and sadness that is brought up upon her first return to

Central High for a reunion with her eight other classmates. As she walks through
the halls and rooms of the old school, she recalls the horrible acts of violence
that were committed by the white students against her and her friends. In 1954,
the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education that
schools needed to integrate and provide equal education for all people and it
was unconstitutional for the state to deny certain citizens this opportunity.

Although this decision was a landmark case and meant the schools could no longer
deny admission to a child based solely on the color of their skin. By 1957, most
schools had began to slowly integrate their students, but those in the deep
south were still trying to fight the decision. One of the most widely known
instances of this happening was at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

It took the school district three years to work out an integration plan. The
board members and faculty didn't like the fact that they were going to have to
teach a group of students that were looked down upon and seen as
"inferior" to white students. However, after much opposition, a plan
was finally proposed. The plan called for the integration to happen in three
phases. First, during the 1957-1958 school year, the senior high school would be
integrated, then after completion at the senior high level, the junior high
would be integrated, and the elementary levels would follow in due time.

Seventeen students were chosen from hundreds of applicants to be the first black
teenagers to begin the integration process. The town went into an uproar. Many
acts of violence were committed toward the African-Americans in the city. Racism
and segregation seemed to be on the rise. Most black students decided to stay at

Horace Mann, the black high school that was underfunded and didn't boast a very
high graduation rate, let alone much of a college acceptance percentage. Some
out of fear and others just accepted the harsh and unfair circumstances. The
state and town passed laws and ordinances as the school year drew near in order
to keep the school from integrating. Even the state governor refused for the
desegregation process to happen without resistance. Some blacks also opposed the
desegregation for fear of future repercussions. The nine brave students,
however, refused to be stopped. On September 3, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green,

Jefferson Thomas, Minnijean Brown (Trickey), Carlotta Walls (LaNier), Terrence

Roberts, Gloria Ray (Karlmark), Thelma Mothershed-Wair, and Melba Patillo Beals
set off for school. The governor of Arkansas, Orvel Faubus, had sent National

Guardsmen to the school the previous day to surround the building and keep all

African-Americans from entering its doors. He stated in an interview that the
reason for the troops was he heard a rumor that white supremacists were going to
riot and he was just protecting the students. He declared Central High
off-limits to all people of color "in order for their own protection".

The students never did make it into school that day. Before they even reached
the property they were met with great resistance from racist citizens who spat
upon them, mocked them, threw sharp objects at them, and even physically beat
them. Melba describes the deep hurt she felt as for the first time in her life
she saw the harsh reality of racism at its worst. The next day the students met
with Daisy Bates, the head of the regional NAACP, and decided to all walk in
together. The problem was, Ms. Bates had tried to call all of the students but
one girl, Elizabeth Eckford, didn't own a phone. She never heard of the plan and
attempted to walk into the school herself. A mob of people surrounded her and
threatened to hang her all the while the Arkansas National Guard did nothing.

She escaped without injury but Beals and the others realized how serious of a
matter this had come to. The school began to get national attention and the