Warriors Don't Cry

by Melba Pattillo Beals

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Why does Melba join the Little Rock Nine?

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Every time she's walked past Central High School, Melba's always wanted to go inside. She knows just how important education can be for the life chances of African-Americans such as herself, especially now that the Supreme Court's struck down school segregation in its landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. If she could go to Central High, then she figures that she could gain access to all kinds of opportunities previously denied to her, such as being able to sit on the first floor of the movie theater, which is currently reserved for whites.

So when the time comes to sign up to Central High, Melba puts her name forward, becoming one of only seventeen students to do so. Due to fear and intimidation, however, that number's whittled down to just nine—the Little Rock Nine, as they're known to history—and Melba's one of them. Along with the other students, Melba must dig deep and find reserves of courage to help her through the challenges ahead. In taking on a centuries-old system of white supremacy, she's potentially risking her life. And all because she just wants the same right to a good education as everyone else.

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