Note: I wrote this review before the events at The University of Missouri. I know we still have a lot to learn and figure out. My wish is for everyone to BE KIND and NOT BE AN ASSHOLE. Call me naive. God Bless and Peace on Earth.
From the goodreads.com blurb:
In 1957, well before Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Melba Pattillo Beals and eight other teenagers became iconic symbols for the Civil Rights Movement and the dismantling of Jim Crow in the American South as they integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in the wake of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education.
Throughout her harrowing ordeal, Melba was taunted by her schoolmates and their parents, threatened by a lynch mob’s rope, attacked with lighted sticks of dynamite, and injured by acid sprayed in her eyes. But through it all, she acted with dignity and courage, and refused to back down.
This book was so startling to me. That the white students of Central High, organized by parents and with help from the Governor! could be so … mean, isn’t the right word, and hateful is accurate, but physically abusive is more true. Flaming firebombs and firecrackers, acid, kicks and punches with adults pretending not to see.
I just don’t understand. And don’t say, “Well, that was the way it was in the South back then.” Well, it was disgusting.
And we are only playing these same scenes still but covertly (OR: NOT COVERTLY: swastikas drawn with feces?) and/or on different groups of underprivileged HUMANs. Because they are ‘different’? Get over it.
Imagine such a scene today if Federal troops were called to keep peace inside a school. Of course, parents would protest if armed soldiers were in the hallways of their children’s school now; but to think that these soldiers were protecting NINE kids from the hundreds attending. It boggles my brain. I don’t think I could would have been quarter as brave and courageous as these African American kids who just wanted to go to school and learn. They really didn’t quite have a grasp of the political undertaking they were about to begin nor the significance that bright September — oh yes, they certainly figured it out! but this thought of the importance of what they were setting out to do and understanding that it was to be so very difficult; for it to be a sustaining principle to make the abuse ‘worth it’? Amazing. How can a 15 yo have the strength to start such and ‘see what happens?’
Applaud their fortitude and the unwavering support of their families.
And that the judge who ordered that integration should proceed had an armored guards protecting him 24 hours a day?! While these kids only had protection for a few months and only during the school hours – not getting to and from. They couldn’t stick up for themselves or show their fear because then they were the ones at risk of being suspended or expelled.
“Much worse than the fear and any physical pain I had endured was the hurt deep down inside my heart, because no part of me understood why people would do those kinds of things to one another.”
At one point Melba was so discouraged and lonely but she was to get NO sympathy from her very strong, loving and wise grandmother:
“Did you count on the central people for your spiritual food before you went there? Have you been waiting on them to treat you good and tell you you’re all right so you’ll know you’re all right? Does God know your value? You could never in this lifetime count on another human being to keep you from being lonely, nobody can provide your spiritual food.”