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Readers Response: Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals

2013 July 17
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This post is a reader’s response to a book read for the 2013 Hub Reading Challenge.

warriors don't cry melba pattillo beals coverI was particularly affected by Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals. It was very difficult to listen to this entire story. Beals endured a great deal of physical and emotional abuse at Central High School in Little Rock as part of the first integration of schools in America. I was listening to the book when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred, and I found myself crying at such cruelty on the way to work, not sure whether I should be listening to the news or to this story of human unkindness.

In addition to the horrible experiences Beals relates, I also found it hard to concentrate on a non-fiction audiobook as it is not my favorite genre. However, I really appreciated how Beals let the reader into her mind and let us see past the doors and the iconic images of the first blacks escorted by soldiers into a “white” high school. In history class it does seem as if these 9 walked into the school and suddenly everyone was integrated and everthing was all okay. It certainly was nothing like that. Those students were hit and kicked and subjected to all sorts of insults, and never once did the segregationists stop trying to get them out of school. I am glad that I listened to this book as part of the Hub Reading Challenge because I learned a great deal more from Beals’s experience on a personal level then I could from a history textbook.

— Martha Boksenbaum

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One Response
  1. July 17, 2013

    I read this story a few years ago, and it was on my mind last year when I visited South Central High School. I had an author visit with three classes, and saw first hand how things have changed there over the years. The shool has an on-going committment to remember the past whild continually reching for the future (God, I know I sound like an advertisement, but I was totally moved by what I saw and felt while in the building, and visiting the museum next door.) People there, both white and black, do not forget the horrors those kids had to go through, and the book is highlighted in the museum.

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