Warriors Don't Cry

by Melba Pattillo Beals

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How did Melba's parents react to her selection for Central High?

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Melba's parents were furious after discovering that Melba had been chosen to attend Central High. Part of their anger was derived from their fear for Melba's safety. Additionally, Melba's parents were also frightened that the entire family would be targeted for allowing Melba to attend.

Melba's mother was so upset by Melba's assignment to Central High that she didn't speak to Melba the morning after discovering the upsetting news. After the governor proclaimed on TV that he had sent the National Guard to Central High, tensions reached a fever pitch. A caller to Melba's home threatened to bomb her family's house. This prompted Melba's grandmother to stay awake the entire night with a shotgun on her lap.

Melba's assignment to Central High also led to some surprising but welcome reactions from other family members. For example, Melba's Auntie Mae announced her unequivocal support for Melba at a family gathering. She told Melba that rules were meant to be broken and that Melba was "sassy enough" to pull off integration successfully.

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