Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 28 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Warriors Don't Cry.
This section contains 683 words
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Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High Summary & Study Guide Description

Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals.

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, declaring it illegal to have segregated public schools. All public school systems were ordered to begin integration within a specific time period. This decision was met with many emotions, including hatred and fear. The story revolves around the actions that took place in Little Rock, Arkansas during that turbulent time.

Melba Pattillo is one of the students that become collectively known as The Little Rock Nine. Nine black students are integrated into Little Rock's Central High School in 1956. Melba is 15 years old. Although Melba was raised in a household that is brimming with love, knowledge, strength and unshakable faith, the events that occur shake the girl's foundation and her entire world.

The main characters in the story are Melba Pattillo; her mother, Lois Pattillo, and grandmother, India Peyton. Other significant characters include the remainder of the students: Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray, Carlotta Walls, Minnijean Brown, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Thelma Mothershed.

Lois Pattillo is a remarkable woman. An English teacher, Lois is studying for her master's degree, something that is all but unheard of in that time and place. Grandma India, a maid, is a highly self-educated woman who rules as the matriarch of the family and is a source of great strength for Melba and her brother Conrad. Although Mr. Pattillo is present in the first part of the story, it is Mother Lois and Grandma India who take the reins with the children, never allowing them to forget to take pride in who they are and not to back down for what one believes in. Both women are also a deep fount of faith, a trait which serves the family well in times of desperation and danger.

The ridicule, hatred, threats and physical abuse the students suffer is unbelievable. There are thousands of people who want the students removed from the school and will do anything to ensure that it happens. There are a bevy of physical attacks, from attempted rape to hitting, kicking, attempted murder, to a large number of threats and severe emotional and mental abuse. The students survive on their wits, deep desire to persevere, and strong faith. The presence of the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles also plays a significant part in the story, as the students' protectors inside the school.

Although school officials and police are ordered to protect the Little Rock Nine, it is more common that the students are left on their own to face the horrors of racism. As the school year goes on, the segregationists become desperate to have the students removed from the school so they cannot return for another school year. The efforts are extreme, from extreme provocation to attempted murder. Melba is saved more than once by a white boy named Link who proves to be a true friend. Melba learns that Link is fighting his own battle with racism regarding Nana Healey, a woman who has worked for Link's family all his life and who was cast out, penniless, when she became ill. The woman has virtually nothing, and Link must feed her so that she can stay alive. Nana Healey is dying and together, Melba and Link do all they can to ease the old woman's pain.

There is a tremendous battle between Arkansas Governor Faubus and the Supreme Court. Faubus unfailingly breaks the law by ignoring the integration ruling and openly defies President Eisenhower. There are court battles and retaliation against those who defy the Governor and other state officials. Despite all odds, Ernest Green becomes the first black student to graduate from Central High School.

The story ends with a 30 year reunion with all the students at their alma mater. Each student has gone on to accomplish great things and have continued their education and forward movement in personal and professional growth. Grandma India once told Melba that one day she would be grateful for all she was forced to endure. As usual, Grandma India was right.

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This section contains 683 words
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