“. The colored children were raised by their parents who taught them to expect racism andsegregation and to even accept it because any opposition to the white people meantharsher penalties and even more laws to be passed. This was a major reason why evensome blacks opposed the integration of colored children into the white schools and intothe white society. They figured that even though the conditions and quality of theirchildren’s education was not as good as the whites, at least they would be able to live in apeaceful, non-violent way.
Melba recalled a confrontation with a woman at church whomshe had known for many years. As she put it, “I was startled when a woman I’d seen oftenenough but didn’t really know began lecturing me. For a moment I feared she was evengoing to haul off and hit me. She was beside herself with anger. I could barely get mygood morning in because she was talking very loud, attracting attention as she told me Iwas too fancy for my britches and the other people in our community would pay for myuppity need to be with white folks.
” Well, the students refused to go down without anintense struggle. The NAACP, led by Daisy Bates, organized boycotts against whitebusinesses in Little Rock and even took the case to federal court, where it became anationwide constitutional crisis. Churches held vigils and prayer meetings, and blackfriends united together in community efforts to clean up the town and prove theiracceptability. Beals held on tightly to her religious views and kept her faith in Godthroughout the entire ordeal. She felt that as long as she was humble and steadfast, thenthe Lord would reward her in the end. Her faith in God was her one true hope wheneverything else had failed her and she felt like giving up. Melba also found strength in hergrandmother, who was always there for her in the roughest times. Her grandma alwaysknew the right thing to say at the right time in order to provide support and comfort. OnSeptember 20, a judge ruled in favor of the students and prevented Governor Faubus fromusing the National Guard to prevent entry into the school. On Monday, September 23, thenine black students left for school together. An enormous mob outside was waiting forthem but they pressed on. Amidst racial slurs being shouted at them, death threats beingproposed, objects being thrown, and human barricaded blocking them, the students boldlymarched up to the doors of the school. On the outside, they remained stoic, not allowingany emotion to be shown for fear the mob would become even more violent. On theinside, however, Melba feared for her life. She was absolutely sure that her death wasimminent and quickly approaching, but the students managed to walk inside. PresidentEisenhower had sent in federal troops to make sure that the scene remained safe and thatthe students made it through the school day without harm. Men in military uniformescorted all of the students around the building. This made Melba feel even more differentand awkward than before, but she pressed on, and so did the other students. Even thoughthe guards were with the students, they still experienced constant hatred and acts of racialviolence. Insults were yells, black students were punched, lockers were destroyed, andfights broke out. Melba even had sticks of dynamite tossed her way, she was stabbed, anda white student intentionally sprayed acid into her eyes, nearly causing permanentblindness. As the year went by the insults decreased gradually, but the hatred stillremained. Eventually the troops left and the students had to fend for themselves.
Minnijean Brown was expelled just before Christmas because she could not handle thehatred anymore and intentionally dumped a lunch tray on two white boys. She wasallowed to come back to the school for the next semester but then permanently expelledfor calling a white girl who provoked her “white trash”. This gave the white students atthe school something to be excited about. The hate crimes began to happen morefrequently. Nevertheless, the other eight students never blinked and eye or startedanything, they only turned the other cheek in a very brave, almost warrior-like way. Theother eight students finished school that year and one of them even graduated. ErnestGreen became the first colored student to ever graduate from Central High School. Theblack students could never have dreamed of a happier day. They had successfullycompleted the unthinkable. Even though all of the cards were stacked up against them, themanaged to fight through all of the hate and emerge and winners in a battle against racism.
This was a huge victory for the entire African-American society. But the war was notover. The governor signed a bill that allowed him to shut down all four of Little Rock’spublic schools. The families of the Little Rock Nine (now eight) students fell underenormous pressure from all sides. Some of them lost their jobs, some moved, and othergave up. Melba and four other students took correspondence courses from Arkansas StateUniversity while waiting for the high schools to open. The case was already in theSupreme Court and Beals knew it was only a matter of time. She patiently waited until the1959 ruling was announced that declared Governor Faubus’s bill unconstitutional, forcinghim to reopen the doors. Melba Beals did not, however, go back to Central High School.
During the period when the schools were closed down, the death threats and violent actstoward Melba’s family escalated. Fearing her life, Melba moved to California to live in asafer environment where she could continue working Toward her educational dreams. Themembers of the Little Rock Nine, along with help from their family members, community,churches, and national organizations proved that although some people will go to greatlengths in order to prevent desegregation, with hard work and determination, and a littlebit of luck, things can and will get better. They were part of a stepping stone that helpedthe civil rights movement to take off and eventually led to complete integration of allethnic groups in America. The definition of a warrior is “one who is engaged in orexperienced in battle, or in the military life; a soldier; a champion”. Melba Beals proved tobe a warrior throughout all of the events that surrounded the integration of Central HighSchool. Although she eventually had to leave town, she and the other eight studentsshowed true bravery and courage when they decided to scale the walls of segregation andend the oppression of the white people in Little Rock. Beals was truly woman who foughthard and kept her faith in route to becoming a “warrior” and eventually a “champion” inthe fight for civil rights. Sources: Beals, Melba Patillo. “Warriors Don’t Cry.” PocketBooks. (February 1995). Cozzens, Lisa. “The Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965.”African American History. http://fledge.watson.org/lisa/ blackhistory/civilrights-Bibliography: