Melba Pattillo Beals, The Little Rock Nine

Little Rock Nine Leave Central High in 1957 Escorted by Soldiers

Melba Pattillo Beals and other members of Little Rock Nine leave Central High escorted by Soldiers in 1957.

Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the students to volunteer to transfer to Central High School, was born into a family where education was extremely important. Her mother Lois, was one of the first black graduates of the University of Arkansas in 1954, and went on to earn a doctorate degree.

After the integration of Central High School, Beals earned a bachelor of arts degree and a masters degree in journalism from San Francisco State University and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York respectively. She has been a reporter, communications consultant, and motivational speaker.

Beals is also an author and became the first of the Little Rock Nine to write a book based on her experiences in 1957. Her memoir, Warriors Don’t Cry was published in 1994 and was named the American Library Association (ALA) Notable Book, and won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award the following year.

Her Experience in 1957

“I sometimes wish I could change myself into a psychiatrist to determine what makes me such a hated member of this school. Can they really be treating me this way because I am brown?”

(Photo courtesy Central High Museum Historical Collections/UA Little Rock Archives)

Back to Little Rock Nine 


Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000.

Beals, Melba Pattillo. Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High. New York: Washington Square Books, 1994.

Counts, Will. A Life is More Than a Moment. Indiana University Press: Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1999.

Journey to Little Rock: The Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey. Dir. Rob Thompson. North East Productions, 2002. DVD.

LaNier, Carlotta Walls, and Lisa Frazier Page. A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School. New York: One World/Ballantine, 2009.

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center. Little Rock, Arkansas. (accessed June 16, 2012).

National Park Service, Central High School National Historic Site. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved June 5, 2012, from

Roberts, Terrence. July 7, 2008. “Dr. Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine,” Facing History and Ourselves. Retrieved from

Roberts, Terrence. Lessons from Little Rock. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2009.

The Ernest Green Story. Disney Educational Productions, 2005. DVD.