Timeline Description: Melba Pattillo Beals grew up during a turbulent time in history—during the time when public schools were first becoming integrated. She, along with a handful of other kids, were the first black students in Arkansas to attend a white school; her legacy has lived on.
|December 7, 1941||Melba is born
Melba was born to an upstanding family in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her mother was well educated and taught high school English, and her father worked for the railroad.
|1950's||Integration begins taking place(Early 1950's)
Many schools, especially in the south, still held to firm black-or-white policies. Leaders saw the danger and oppressiveness of the situation, so they began integrating the students.
|May 1955||Melba volunteers
Melba had always been a bright student. At her all-black high school in Little Rock, she started to realize the wasn't receiving the same level of quality education as her white peers; because of this, she volunteered to be one of the first black students to attend an all-white school.
|1957||Attending Central High
Melba, along with eight other students, attended their first day at an all-white school. They became known as the Little Rock Nine.
|1957||A turbulent year
Their first day of school was full of turbulence, with soldiers being brought in to protect the black students from those who opposed integration. The school year was filled with hatred and violence toward Melba and the others, but Melba kept her head held high.
|1958||A new year
In spite of Melba's tough times the year before, she determined to continue with a quality education. She intended to continue attending Central High School, but the school decided to shut down to avoid having to integrate the students.
|1958||A move to California
With help from the NAACP, Melba was relocated to a foster family in California. There, she was able to attend Montgomery High School, where she graduated.
|1958||Melba is honored
Because of her bravery and all she endured, Melba was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP. The medal was also given to the other students in the Little Rock Nine.
|1960||Central High reopens
Central High finally chose to integrate their students. They reopened their doors in 1960, but Melba had already graduated and moved on to college, where she eventually graduated from San Francisco University with a BA in journalism, as well as an MA in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Melba married a man named John Beals. They had one child, but eventually divorced.
|1994||Warriors Don't Cry
Melba began writing about her experiences during the integration crisis. She was the first of the Little Rock Nine to have a book published on the event, and it was titled Warriors Don't Cry.
|1995||Awards and Honors
Warriors Don't Cry was awarded the American Library Association's Notable Book for 1995. It was also awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.
|1999||The Congressional Medal of Honor
Melba joined the ranks of only 300 others in American history. She was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for her bravery during the integration crisis.
Melba never stopped learning, and in 2009 she graduated from college—again. She received her Doctoral Degree in Education from the University of San Francisco.