Warriors Don't Cry

by Melba Pattillo Beals

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In Warriors Don't Cry, what role does the media play in the Central High integration crisis?

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The media plays an indispensable role in expanding national and international attention to the critical situation at Central High School and throughout Little Rock and Arkansas. The unequal treatment of the media staffers as related to their racial identity is also significant. The importance of the media becomes so meaningful to Melba that she decides to become a journalist.

The school gained importance far beyond Arkansas as the tense atmosphere and hostile, even violent events that surrounded the first few days of integration presented a volatile situation. The failure or hesitancy of state authorities led President Eisenhower to send federal troops to occupy Little Rock. The media flooded the city and intensively covered the story. Some African American journalists were attacked.

The fact that the media representatives were predominantly white somewhat lessened the accusations of biased coverage. Keeping a spotlight on the school and the city helped to publicize the importance of desegregation, but even more, to humanize the people involved, showing the courage of the teenagers on the front lines of the struggle.

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