Warriors Don’t Cry Review
I thought Warriors Don’t Cry was a profoundly uplifting as well as a profoundly depressing account of the integration of Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. When the U.S. Supreme Court declared that school segregation was unconstitutional, Beals was a schoolgirl in Little Rock. She knew that the good school that would prepare her best for college was Central High in Little Rock, and she wanted to be in the first group of black teenagers to integrate the school. This memoir is based heavily on Beals’ diary and her English-teacher mother's notes. It explains how the 15-year-old Beals decided to integrate Central High with eight classmates and what happened as a result of that decision. Beals's narrative is uplifting because she survived the ordeal, went on to college at San Francisco State University and Columbia University, and eventually returned to Little Rock in 1987 to be greeted by then-governor Bill Clinton and a black Central High student-body president. The tale is depressing because unrelenting violence saturates most pages, making a reader ponder how humans can act with so much hatred toward one another. The fact that the violence and hate was aimed at children is particularly depressing. The violence and hate came from all angles--white classmates, their parents, Little Rock rednecks, and even the school's teachers. Even Arkansas governor Orval Faubus, encouraged the violence. The goal was to drive the nine black students away from Central High before they could graduate. President Eisenhower responded by calling in federal troops, turning Central High into an armed battleground. The sense of immediacy in Beals's well-crafted account makes the events seem like they happened yesterday. Some samples of her diary entries showing her emotional state during all this would have made the accounts she describes much more powerful, but all in all this book is a good read.
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