The Brown vs. Board of Education Doctrine states, “ We conclude in the field of Education the doctrine of “ separate but equal” has no place separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. THIS REQUIRED THE DESEGREGATION OF SCHOOLS ACROSS AMERICA.
Melba Patillo Beal’s was one of the nine students that were chosen to intragate Central High School in 1957. She kept a diary of all her thoughts while intragation was being carried out. Almost forty years after the fact she decided to tell her story by writing the book Warrior’s Don’t Cry. Melba Beals gives us a history lesson and as true a story of coming age in America at a certain time and place as one could hope to find.
The title Warrior’s Don’t Cry came from her grandmother’s saying to her, “ Everybody’s a warrior on the battlefield for the Lord”, and she used to sing a song, “ I’m on the battlefield for my Lord”. And so it comes from that, from her singing, and from her experience she had with the 101st Airborne, the soldiers who were warrior’s, who came down to guard the nine of them when they were going to school at Central High School.
The setting was Little Rock, Arkansas, Central High School. 1957 was the year; it was like a major bastion of white segregation in the South because it was ranked among the top high schools in the country. And it was where the elite children of Little Rock attended school. And it was, one believes, the last place they would have wanted black children come. And in order to stay there, get there, and be there, President Eisenhower, indeed intimately had to send soldiers- warriors. September of 1957, we’re really talking about the whole period because in 1954 Brown vs. board of education said, “ Separate is not equal”, and thus began this whole event of the south to integrate, and not to integrate, and this whole almost warring like environment or atmosphere- where in most cases white people said, “ NO, we’re not going to integrate. We don’t care what the Supreme Court says”. And federal court judges said, “ Yes, you will integrate”. And so then everybody said, “Well how can we do it with as little as possible? How can we stingily integrate?” And that is what they did in Little Rock. They stingily agreed to integrate.
The main theme of the book was racial tension. The white folks treated the black folks like they were dirt. Even older white folks treated the younger black children like dirt. I do not understand how any adult could hit a child, especially because of their color. One instance that really bothered me was when a white man almost raped Melba because she was black. It was in 1954, immediately after Brown vs. the Board of Education decision had came down. After that she said she was going to read the newspaper because she wanted to know when white men got angry. And sometimes she had to spend her own nickel for it. Another theme throughout the book could be determination. The nine children were determined to carry out integration. They did not give up. Some older black folks in the neighborhood faulted the nine children for the actual attempt of integration. They claimed that it made it harder than it already was to be black and living in Little Rock. For example, Melba’s neighbor Mrs. Floyd said to her after the first day at Central, “ Now You’ve had your lesson. You don’t have to go back to that awful school anymore.” Not only were they catching hell from the whites, they were catching just as much from the blacks as well. After the first day in the school being taunted and mistreated they could have not gone back. They put up a fight, as far as integration goes- they would not take no for an answer.
If I were to put myself in Melba’s position I would not have made it as far as being able to write a book about the situation. I do have to commend her on everything she has done and been through. I am not the type of person, who believes in giving up, but when my life is in jeopardy then it is a different story. She was put through many hardships, that at the age of fifteen she should not have been. Just hearing people say, “ We’re going to… we don’t want those niggers in our school”. Just hearing that kind of definitive statement and hearing what they were willing to do. The heaviness of the mood was to her the first thing that made the site of her heart hurt, made her feelings sad, made her want to cry—the thought that someone would kill her, the treat of killing. The actual feeling of physical violence was the first day she went to school. All this was hardship Melba faced during the act of desegregation every night this young lady went to sleep with fear that she might get killed in the middle of the night. Her grandmother would sit in a rocking chair downstairs with a riffle in her lap to protect the family. All times of the day the family had to answer the phone to threats. At the age of fifteen most would have pulled out, but not this young lady. If it were not for the support of her family (especially her grandmother), and Danny (from the 101st Airborne Division). Her grandmother gave her strength and courage to push her on. She told her that she was a warrior on the battlefield for the Lord. When Melba had thoughts of discouragement, it was her grandmother that gave her the will to keep going. And at the end she would be happy she went through with all this. Danny was the soldier that was put in charge of Melba’s safety while in Central High School. He was a white man that Melba actually trusted her life with. Even when the kids pushed, hit, and spit at her he told her that she was a warrior she had to fight to survive. He explained to her that he would not always be there right behind her to protect her; she had to begin to figure out how to handle the kids. Both Danny and her grandmother’s words of wisdom and encouragement kept Melba in tact.
I found this book to be very useful as far as teaching what exactly went on during desegregation. This is indeed a very informative but interesting way for learning the information. I was read the book I was in to it, I wanted to go on and read more because I had no idea that all this went on. While discussing the book with my father, he also told me that some of this was going on when he was in school. I never knew that either. I felt emotion kind ok like I was there, it told you all the details and I like that. It is hard reading this book knowing that there was actual time when people behaved in that manner. I think this book will maybe even change people’s perspective on life as a whole. Excellent selection for students!!!