Warriors Don't Cry

by Melba Pattillo Beals

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What are some characteristic traits of Melba Patillo Beals in Warriors Don't Cry?

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Character traits tha Melba Patillo Beals showcases in Warriors Don't Cry include immense bravery and tenacity. She also shows compassion and the ability to forgive and move past the hardships that she endured.

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Melba Pattillo Beals is above all a very strong character, because she has to be. As one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students trying to gain admission to a racially segregated school, Melba needs to have the necessary strength to help her deal with the tsunami of hatred, ignorance, and violence generated by the fight against segregation.

At times, Melba must feel as if the whole world is against her as she stands up for what she knows is right. Yet she also knows that she must stand firm, come what may. This isn't just about her or the other students; it's about future generations of African Americans and of what kind of world they will live in.

Allied with Melba's strength is her immense courage. Most of us take for granted that going to school is a pretty straightforward business. But for Melba and the other students, it's a different matter entirely. They have to run a gauntlet of hate every single day from a large, baying mob of white supremacists. This would be difficult for most grown adults, let alone for a group of teenagers.

And yet, Melba is not prepared to back down. She knows that she has right on her side, and the support of her family, her friends, the other students, and the civil rights movement, and this gives her the courage to turn up every day to school and take her rightful place at Little Rock Central High.

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There are many great character traits that Melba Patillo Beals displays. For starters, after a Supreme Court ruling declared that it was illegal to have certain schools that only white kids could attend, she is one of a small group of students to sign up to transfer to a school that had formerly been "whites only."

Despite the threat of violence that deters some of the original group from going through with the plan to go to the new school, Melba shows the character trait of bravery and refuses to back down, even when faced with a white mob on her first day of classes.

Despite the ongoing persecution Melba faces at the hands of her white classmates, she remains compassionate. This is evidenced when she becomes friends with Link, a white student who loans her his car when she needs to get away from trouble. She goes with Link to visit his Black nanny and winds up having to tell him that his nanny is dying of tuberculosis.

The fact that Melba, together with the other members of the "Little Rock Nine" return to Central High School in their forties to meet the Black teenager who is now student body president, shows that Melba has a forgiving heart. Her willingness to return to the place where she endured so much to see what her legacy has produced shows immense strength of character.

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Melba Pattillo Beals is stubborn. She always strives for what she believes in and wants. For instance, she knew that she was receiving a lower quality education at the all-black Horace Mann High School compared to what was offered at the all-white Central High School. She wants to join college and understands that would only happen if she gets the right education at Central High. Without seeking consent from her parents, she voluntarily signs up to be transferred to Central High School as part of the integration program.

She is courageous; despite the grave danger posed by the mobs at school and within the community, Melba consistently attends the school that year. In fact, she is so courageous that she walks by herself in Central High.

Melba is perseverant. She withstood all the animosity meted out on her, and gracefully smiles and thanks her tormentors.

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Melba Pattillo Beals is an extremely religious person whose faith is unshakable. She writes, "The experience endowed me with an indestructible faith in God" (2). During her experience integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, she faces daily harassment and threats, but still continues to see herself as a warrior for God. She does not turn hateful or vindictive, but instead is truly forgiving and thankful. She prays for the white and African-American people who help her survive, and she does not become bitter, despite the hatred that some of her schoolmates display towards her.

She is also an intelligent and thoughtful person. Part of why she is accepted to integrate Central High School is because she is scholarly and has high grades. The diary she keeps during the school year shows that she is reflective about her experiences. Her experiences also make her mature. Though she starts the year as, in some ways, a typical teen who likes Johnny Mathis and clothes, she matures very quickly. She remains tenacious throughout her ordeal; she returns to school day after day and says that she would go through the same experiences again to integrate Central High School and advance African-American equality.

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Melba Patillo Beals is an exceptionally strong character. I do not mean in terms of raw physical strength. I mean regarding her personality and mental toughness. She is one of nine students selected to attend the previously all-white school in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The general population, at this time in history, is very against desegregation, so Melba and her eight classmates are walking into an incredibly hostile environment every day. Just to be willing to do this Melba must be extremely brave. She also has a lot of determination. She is yelled at, threatened, insulted, and much worse on a daily basis, so for her to decide to walk back into that every day shows a lot of mental toughness.

Melba also has an understanding of what is happening, which might be why she sticks with it. She knows that her efforts are helping break down racial barriers across the nation, so Melba is definitely an unselfish character.

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