Quick side-note: Finishing this book gave me great satisfaction because I read it for a class I have only finished one other book for, and I have not finished an actual book in so long.
Summary: 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 repeats the same phrase over and over again throughout the book to reinforce the theme: Warriors do not cry. Melba Pattillo Beals brilliantly re-tells her life integrating Little Rock Central High School during the Civil Rights movement in a way which makes readers lose themselves and become Melba.
My heart and eyes stung with the words thrown at the brave African-Americans who chose to integrate a high school simply because they believed they could do it. And boy do they do it. The format of the book reminds me of any other story written out there, except the difference is this is a recollection of someone’s life. This story of people throwing acid and words and sticks of dynamite at a teenage girl actually happened. I was/still am appalled at the treatment of the teenagers solely based on their skin color. Boy, I am glad the views have changed. While not completely, they have changed considerably.
There isn’t much to say about this book, but to just read it. Every person who reads this book will be impacted differently by the words inside. Your background and your morals will impact how the book will impact you. A bit confusing, I know, but there just are no words for what I experienced while reading this book and what those students experienced. I cannot begin to comprehend what Melba went through writing this book in order for the generations to come to fully understand what the civil rights movement was about.
I can only ask of you one thing: Read this book.
Much love, XOXO,
~A Writer Named Charley~