Biography of Melba Beals

Melba Pattillo Beals is an American journalist and member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African American students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. Beals was born in 1941 to Lois Marie Pattillo, Ph.D., of the first Black graduates of the University of Arkansas, and Howell Pattillo, a Missouri Pacific Railroad worker. Beals' family valued education; when she realized she was not receiving the same quality education as her white peers, Beals, aged 15, volunteered to integrate Little Rock's white high school, despite constant harassment, threats of racial violence, and even a National Guard blockade ordered by Arkansas governor, Orval Faubus. Faubus later shut down all integrated schools in Arkansas, leading Beals, with help from the NAACP, to complete her senior year of high school in Santa Rosa, California. During this time, Beals began writing professionally, contributing stories to major magazines and newspapers.

Beals went on to graduate from San Francisco State University before earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco. Beals published her memoirs, Warriors Don't Cry, and White is a State of Mind, based on the events at Little Rock and her life after. She also taught journalism at the Dominican University of California and served as the chair emeritus of the communications department. In 1958, the NAACP awarded Beals and her fellow Little Rock Nine students the Spingarn Medal; in 1999, she received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in America.

Study Guides on Works by Melba Beals

Warriors Don't Cry is a nonfiction memoir published by Melba Pattillo Beals in 1994. The book is set in the 1950s and 1960s, using entries from Beals' diary to recount her experiences as part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of nine African...