Warriors Don't Cry

by Melba Pattillo Beals

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Student Question

Why didn't Melba tell her parents about volunteering for Central High?

Expert Answers

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Melba didn't tell her parents she volunteered to go to Central High because she knew that they would not be supportive of her choice.

Since racial tensions were high after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling and school integration seemed like an impossible undertaking, Melba had no expectations that her parents would permit her to attend Central High. So, she kept silent about volunteering to be one of the first African American students to attend the high school.

The main reason Melba volunteered was to gain access to opportunities she had previously been denied, such as the right to attend shows at the Robinson Auditorium or to sit on the first floor of the movie theater.

When Melba's family discovered that she had been assigned to Central High, they were furious. Their anger, however, was derived from their fear for her safety. Their fear lay in the fact that many white residents in Little Rock opposed the integration of African American students into Central High.

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