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Monday, December 14, 2020

Little Rock Nine Memoir Inspirational and Empowering

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

On May 17, 1954, in the case of Brown v. the Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that "separate but equal" education violated the Fourteenth Amendment.  The segregation of schools was inherently unequal and should, therefore, be abolished.  While many cheered the landmark decision, many others opposed it, including Arkansas governor Orval Faubus.  His vehement opposition to the integration of Little Rock High School turned the city into a hotbed of tension and racist violence, making the news around the world.  In defiance of Faubus' wishes and the opinions of many Little Rock citizens, nine brave Black high school students integrated the institution with armed guards by their sides in 1957.  They became known as the Little Rock Nine.  Their courage in the face of unthinkable prejudice, mockery, and violence made them heroes whose fortitude continues to awe and inspire.

Journalist Melba Patillo Beals was a 15-year-old high school junior when she and eight others became the first Black students to enroll at Little Rock Central High School.  Determined to get the same education as her white peers, she endured name-calling, being spat on, death threats, being burned with acid, and hundreds of other humiliations at LRCHS.  Although she did not graduate from the institution (she completed her schooling in California, where she boarded with white Quakers), she endured a year of hell there.  It was a year that changed her forever.  In Warriors Don't Cry, Beals tells her story of both terror and triumph in an intimate, personal memoir that is memorable and moving.  The book provides a horrifying but fascinating peek into the history of the Civil Rights Movement, giving readers a gut-wrenching look at what one innocent child had to endure simply because of her skin color.  What stands out is Beals' faith, determination, and inner strength.  Her story is an important, empowering one that intrigued and inspired me.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick and The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), racial slurs, violence, scenes of peril, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. They were very brave young people. I can't imagine having that kind of courage or political awareness at their age.

    I have two friends who went to that high school eight or nine years later (they are white) and they tell me that blacks were still treated pretty horribly even almost a decade later.

  2. I took a class last week and one of our speakers was Terence Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine. It was really interesting to hear his perspective on it and be able to ask him questions.

  3. Excellent review Susan. I am putting this one on my list for nonfiction reading in 2021. Having been an educator, I have a second reason for wanting to read this one.


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