Hong Deng's Reviews > Warriors Don't Cry: The Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High

Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
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's review
Jul 12, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 11th-grade-advisory-school-year

Warriors Don’t Cry is Melba Pattillo’s own account of her story as a young warrior during the civil rights movement. I decided to read this book because I was curious about the details behind the integration of nine African American teenagers into an all white school. This book certainly satisfied my curiosity with detailed explanations and compelling scenes that kept me on the edge of the book. I was captured by the story right away when Melba explains the injustices she and her family suffered because of their race. When she was first born, Melba almost died of fever when the white doctor refused to treat her because her color. She was denied a ride in the saddle even though there were many empty ones. Her family had to be constantly vigilant to avoid confronting white neighbors, who could falsely accuse them for anything. Experiencing these odd and depressing events at age of five, Melba learned the power of silence and forgiveness in the favor of God. Nonetheless, through the tone of a little child, I realized how absurd and cruel racial segregation is.

In 1957, Melba became one of the nine teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. The success of the integration played an instrumental role in the civil rights movement. However, the nine teenagers and their families paid a tremendous price to become the heroes and heroines they are known today. From the first day they entered Central High, Melba and the others had already risked their lives. They were bullied by their white classmates, who tripped them, called them bad names, and sprayed acids in their eyes. There was also a furious crowd of parents and segregationists who attacked the kids and their families outside the school, as well as around their houses. The effort of the President and the Supreme Court, who sent troops to protect the children, were futile against the overwhelming power of the segregationists. I felt awed by the variety of savage methods these white elites used. I was also perplexed by their intense hatred toward Melba and the others, who did not hurt them in anyways. The story certainly depicts humans’ innate savagery and our capability of horrific destruction. On the other hand, it also shows how courage and patience could eventually lead to success. No matter how horrible Melba felt after she attended Central High, she never stopped fighting against the adversity she faced. She said thank you to those who hurt her, prayed to God for guidance, and to forgive those who harmed her.

From Melba’s story, I learned to never judge another person by their race or color. I realized that if everyone is willing to become more open-minded, there will be less conflict and hatred. Although today Americans become more tolerant about one another’ race, religion, and culture, a “new racism” emerged as Melba put it. The “new racism” is about success—success in terms of cultural, social, and economic status. We all have to remain as warriors on a battlefield where we fight for equality. “If one person is denied equality, we are all denied equality.”


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