“. The colored children were raised by their parents who taught them to expect racism and
segregation and to even accept it because any opposition to the white people meant
harsher penalties and even more laws to be passed. This was a major reason why even
some blacks opposed the integration of colored children into the white schools and into
the white society. They figured that even though the conditions and quality of their
children’s education was not as good as the whites, at least they would be able to live in a
peaceful, non-violent way. Melba recalled a confrontation with a woman at church whom
she had known for many years. As she put it, “I was startled when a woman I’d seen often
enough but didn’t really know began lecturing me. For a moment I feared she was even
going to haul off and hit me. She was beside herself with anger. I could barely get my
good morning in because she was talking very loud, attracting attention as she told me I
was too fancy for my britches and the other people in our community would pay for my
uppity need to be with white folks.” Well, the students refused to go down without an
intense struggle. The NAACP, led by Daisy Bates, organized boycotts against white
businesses in Little Rock and even took the case to federal court, where it became a
nationwide constitutional crisis. Churches held vigils and prayer meetings, and black
friends united together in community efforts to clean up the town and prove their
acceptability. Beals held on tightly to her religious views and kept her faith in God
throughout the entire ordeal. She felt that as long as she was humble and steadfast, then
the Lord would reward her in the end. Her faith in God was her one true hope when
everything else had failed her and she felt like giving up. Melba also found strength in her
grandmother, who was always there for her in the roughest times. Her grandma always
knew the right thing to say at the right time in order to provide support and comfort. On
September 20, a judge ruled in favor of the students and prevented Governor Faubus from
using the National Guard to prevent entry into the school. On Monday, September 23, the
nine black students left for school together. An enormous mob outside was waiting for
them but they pressed on. Amidst racial slurs being shouted at them, death threats being
proposed, objects being thrown, and human barricaded blocking them, the students boldly
marched up to the doors of the school. On the outside, they remained stoic, not allowing
any emotion to be shown for fear the mob would become even more violent. On the
inside, however, Melba feared for her life. She was absolutely sure that her death was
imminent and quickly approaching, but the students managed to walk inside. President
Eisenhower had sent in federal troops to make sure that the scene remained safe and that
the students made it through the school day without harm. Men in military uniform
escorted all of the students around the building. This made Melba feel even more different
and awkward than before, but she pressed on, and so did the other students. Even though
the guards were with the students, they still experienced constant hatred and acts of racial
violence. Insults were yells, black students were punched, lockers were destroyed, and
fights broke out. Melba even had sticks of dynamite tossed her way, she was stabbed, and
a white student intentionally sprayed acid into her eyes, nearly causing permanent
blindness. As the year went by the insults decreased gradually, but the hatred still
remained. Eventually the troops left and the students had to fend for themselves.

Minnijean Brown was expelled just before Christmas because she could not handle the
hatred anymore and intentionally dumped a lunch tray on two white boys. She was
allowed to come back to the school for the next semester but then permanently expelled
for calling a white girl who provoked her “white trash”. This gave the white students at
the school something to be excited about. The hate crimes began to happen more
frequently. Nevertheless, the other eight students never blinked and eye or started
anything, they only turned the other cheek in a very brave, almost warrior-like way. The
other eight students finished school that year and one of them even graduated. Ernest
Green became the first colored student to ever graduate from Central High School. The
black students could never have dreamed of a happier day. They had successfully
completed the unthinkable. Even though all of the cards were stacked up against them, the
managed to fight through all of the hate and emerge and winners in a battle against racism.

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This was a huge victory for the entire African-American society. But the war was not
over. The governor signed a bill that allowed him to shut down all four of Little Rock’s
public schools. The families of the Little Rock Nine (now eight) students fell under
enormous pressure from all sides. Some of them lost their jobs, some moved, and other
gave up. Melba and four other students took correspondence courses from Arkansas State
University while waiting for the high schools to open. The case was already in the
Supreme Court and Beals knew it was only a matter of time. She patiently waited until the
1959 ruling was announced that declared Governor Faubus’s bill unconstitutional, forcing
him 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 acts
toward Melba’s family escalated. Fearing her life, Melba moved to California to live in a
safer environment where she could continue working Toward her educational dreams. The
members 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 great
lengths in order to prevent desegregation, with hard work and determination, and a little
bit of luck, things can and will get better. They were part of a stepping stone that helped
the civil rights movement to take off and eventually led to complete integration of all
ethnic groups in America. The definition of a warrior is “one who is engaged in or
experienced in battle, or in the military life; a soldier; a champion”. Melba Beals proved to
be a warrior throughout all of the events that surrounded the integration of Central High
School. Although she eventually had to leave town, she and the other eight students
showed true bravery and courage when they decided to scale the walls of segregation and
end the oppression of the white people in Little Rock. Beals was truly woman who fought
hard and kept her faith in route to becoming a “warrior” and eventually a “champion” in
the fight for civil rights. Sources: Beals, Melba Patillo. “Warriors Don’t Cry.” Pocket
Books. (February 1995). Cozzens, Lisa. “The Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965.”
African American History. blackhistory/civilrights-