Melba Pattillo Beals recounted her experience at Central High School in her award winning book Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School.
Dr. Beals grew up surrounded by family members who knew the importance of education. Her mother, Lois, was one of the first African Americans to graduate from the University of Arkansas in 1954. While attending all-black Horace Mann High School, Dr. Beals knew her educational opportunities were not equal to her white counterparts’ at Central High, leading her to be a part of the effort to integrate that school. She recalled that the soldier assigned to protect her instructed her that “In order to get through this year, you will have to become a soldier. Never let your enemy know what you are feeling.” She took the soldier’s advice, finishing the school year. Barred from returning to Central the following year when the city’s schools were closed, Dr. Beals moved to Santa Rosa, California, to live with a sponsoring family, Dr. & Mrs. George McCabe, who were members of the NAACP, for her senior year of high school.
Dr. Beals graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in journalism, and earned an MA from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, in New York, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of San Francisco. She has worked as a reporter for San Francisco’s public television station and for the Bay area’s NBC affiliate. She has written numerous articles for periodicals including People, Essence and the San Francisco Examiner. In addition, Dr. Beals is the author of White is a State of Mind, a sequel to Warriors Don’ Cry.
Dr. Beals is a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, and she is a much sought after communications consultant and motivational speaker. Dr. Beals is Chair of the Communications Department at Dominican University, in San Rafael, California.
Dr. Beals is the mother of 16-year-old identical twins, Evan and Matthew Pattillo, and an adult daughter, Kellie, a doctoral candidate in psychology. Dr. Beals and her children live in the San Francisco Bay Area.