12 Jan 2009

Essays on Warriors Don’t Cry

When we think of heroes, particularly those of the anti-racisim movement, seldom do we think of the children. Children and young minorities have been at the heart of many historical events, none more moving and significant as the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School. In 1957, Melba Patillo Beals was one of the Little Rock Nine, the first nine black students integrated into Central High School. The novel is autobiographical, starting with the Little Rock Nine paying a visit to the school years after the events.

Warrior’s Don’t Cry is considered literarily significant for its accurate portrayal of the event surrounding the Little Rock Nine and their experiences during their year at Central High School. From the humiliation of being beaten while showering, to having scalding soup dumped on them by fellow students, the abuse the Little Rock Nine suffered would qualify anyone, child or adult, as a courageous hero who stood their ground for what they believed in. The experiences of the Little Rock Nine also had many good points, including an incident in which Gene Smith, the white assistant to the chief of police, assists the students in escaping from the school when the segregationist protesters broke through and attempted to enter the school looking for the black children.

  • What did the actions of Gene Smith and other white community members in aiding the black students show about the community of Little Rock during these events?
  • Could integration have been done in a less controversial manner? If so, how could it have been done?

Today we view our soldiers, firemen, police officers and paramedics as heroes. Even sports athletes are frequently honored with that title. But the true heroes of our nation are not those who risk their lives as an occupation. The true heroes are the men, women and children who risk everything they have, everything they are, and even their very lives unashamedly, unquestioningly, and without regard to payment or reward for something they believe in passionately. The courage of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Little Rock Nine has shaped our society in ways even they never expected. Yet with racially motivated crimes still a recurring theme on our nightly news, it is obvious we still have a lot of work to do.

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