Thursday, February 15, 2018

#ReadSoulLit Day 15: Favorite Memoir

One of my favorite memoirs is an older one that I read quite some time ago. Growing up in Little Rock, the history of Central High School is taught in school and everyone just 'knows' about it, but as a young person I didn't really understood the significance of what happened. I just took it for fact and at the time thought that it was something that happened a long time ago when really it was just the generation/generation and a half before that had to wage that war. My mother was a little girl and living in rural Arkansas when Central High was integrated. When I read this memoir as an adult, it blew my mind how recent this history is. I didn't truly comprehend and appreciate just how the actions and bravery of the Little Rock Nine directly benefited me as a young Black student. Reading Beals' memoir is eye opening and inspiring and one that I would recommend to any reader. 

(Photo from Warriors Don't Cry)

I love when memoirs have personal or meaningful pictures included. There aren't many photos in this memoir, but there are some interesting ones. This one of Beals on the steps of the Supreme Court with none other than Thurgood Marshall is powerful. 

There is also a documentary that I have not seen, but I need to find. 

The landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, brought the promise of integration to Little Rock, Arkansas, but it was hard-won for the nine black teenagers chosen to integrate Central High School in 1957. They ran a gauntlet flanked by a rampaging mob and a heavily armed Arkansas National Guard—opposition so intense that soldiers from the elite 101st Airborne Division were called in to restore order. For Melba Beals and her eight friends those steps marked their transformation into reluctant warriors—on a battlefield that helped shape the civil rights movement.

WARRIORS DON'T CRY, drawn from Melba Beals's personal diaries, is a riveting true account of her junior year at Central High—one filled with telephone threats, brigades of attacking mothers, rogue police, fireball and acid-throwing attacks, economic blackmail, and, finally, a price upon Melba's head. With the help of her English-teacher mother; her eight fellow warriors; and her gun-toting, Bible-and-Shakespeare-loving grandmother, Melba survived. And, incredibly, from a year that would hold no sweet-sixteen parties or school plays, Melba Beals emerged with indestructible faith, courage, strength, and hope.

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