The Novel, Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beals, touch basis on African American teenagers in 1957; being the first ever to be integrated in to an all white high school. Melba the leader of the fight for justice in the school system was twelve years old, the Supreme Court ruled that separate schools for whites was illegal, a ruling called the Brown Vs. Broward of Education of Topeka, Kansas. In the year after the ruling, Melba sees very little change in segregation. Melba is still at an all black high school, but she and sixteen other black students sign up to attend the white school in Little Rock , Central High School.
It then narrowed down nine because the others even couldn’t handle the violent threats. Every day they would get dropped off to Central High School it would be a mob of whites standing behind barricades shouting out racist slurs. For instance, “Niggers go back to Africa” or “We don’t want your dumb asses here”. Those hatred words meant absolutely nothing because Melba and her friends stood their ground even if it meant getting scolded with steaming water in the locker room showers or getting their books knocked out of their hands.
They have changed the way blacks are being treated today in society and now we have better opportunities when it comes down to education. Just from reading this novel made me think back on my life as an African American living in a suburban area whereas whites were the only ones walking the streets. When we rode up in our fancy all black Cadillac Escalade followed by three U-Haul trucks in Sunrise, Fl, I’ll never forget how the whole neighborhood came outside hands over face waiting to see what was going to step out of that tinted SUV.
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My heart as well my family’s, popped out our chest just because we had got the vibe that the welcome we get won’t be sunny side up. As we pulled up to this beige two story home, picket fence, huge pool with a Jacuzzi, fresh smelling green grass my eyes were in amazement. Back where I came from in Opalocka, Fl, our grass was nowhere near that color and we surely didn’t have pools because most blacks don’t know how to swim so you will rarely see those. Finally, we opened our doors together hoping it goes well and to our amazement, everyone grabbed their kids in terror and ran inside their homes.
I couldn’t understand why blacks can’t be welcomed as human versus criminals. Next thing we know, police were racing down the street and our next door neighbor ran outside screaming and pointing our way saying, “That’s them! Those niggers are intruding! ” My older sister, Chaunte and I cried and cried because we thought that once Martin Luther King Jr. made those changes everything would be normal. The police grabbed my mom and dad and asked what’s going on. One fat, smelly, white policeman stepped out of the car with a gun and asked, “How did you people afford a house here?
Are you drug dealers? ” Who in God’s name gave whites the permission to determine whether or not blacks have decent jobs; my parents together make a larger salary than they ever will. He then spits on our drive way and exclaimed, “You niggers better what your backs! ” My mom being so religious scooped us up inside the house and we all prayed together. While my dad handles all the household work, my mom took us down to this all white school in Coconut Grove named Carrolton. Where we derived from was an all black community meaning all black schools, so this I knew would be a drastic adjustment.
My mom didn’t believe in nothing but the best education for her kids so we were going to attend that school like it or not. The next day we started school and it was nothing dreamy. It seemed like were the game pieces on a board game just getting played with. Once my mom disappeared out of sight, everyone threw their lunches on us and pulled our ponytails, screaming, and “Go back to the projects! ” it hurt my heart because they didn’t even give us a chance, but we did fight back that’s what my mom brought us up to do.
The bell rung and everyone scattered to class, leaving my sister and I outside crying while we try to make ourselves presentable again. We finally walked inside going our separate ways and as I walk up Ms. Miller’s second grade class I inhale a deep gulp of air. Tempting to place my hands on the door knob I finally walk in, and looking over at my teacher whom obviously didn’t want me there either because she didn’t even bother to greet me but instead just rolled her eyes and continued writing the assignments on the chalk board.
All the white kids giving me this deep hatred stare, following me as I walk to an empty desk of course to the back of the classroom. As I go sit down I noticed that they took out all the screws out the seat and carved in the desk lots of racist words like: Nigger, Kunt, Cotton picker, African, and Nappy head. It was rough but look at where I am today, a predominately white college and doing well. To sum all up, I respect Melba for standing up for what’s right.
No young girl/boy should have to be a warrior but able to cling to the innocence that’s been slipping away throughout the year. Having accepted the role of a warrior for integration, Melba finds that she can’t put it aside so easily. She learns that being a warrior means more than just venturing into new and hostile territory. It also means leaving behind friends whom doesn’t believe in fighting for their ethnicity but just settling for whatever the white man says is right.
The struggle entails more than one persons desire to go to a better high school or eat at a better diner or ride in the front of the bus. Melba’s struggle is a quest to improve the lives of black people all over the country. Melba’s participation in this quest is why her grandmother calls her one of God’s warriors. Myself as a black female learned a valuable lesson from just reading this novel that it can be changes made of only you take the time to speak up and never back down from it because of the obstacles you are likely to face.
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