YAL - Young Adult Literature Presenter Unit 2004/2005



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Warriors Don't Cry, A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High
by Melba Pattillo Beals


YAL Presenter Unit 2004/2005

Subjects: English, Language Arts
Grade Level: 9th
Posted: 2004
Unit Created by: Beverly Rowls

What makes this a good YAL choice...

Often as teachers we are given the material we are to work with. This was the case with Warriors Don’t Cry. The YAL Committee decided this should be one of the selections that year and I was asked to present it.


I began my unit with research into the Little Rock Nine. After all, I was a carefree 7 year old at that period in history and I did not remember the event or understand its significance, until many decades later. Thanks to the Internet there is a lot of information available on the plight of the Little Rock Nine, who in 1957, were chosen to be the first African-American youth to integrate all-white Central High School in Little Rock, AR. I tried to imagine what it must have been like to attend classes in a new school in the midst of a sea of white hatred. The photographs were terrifying. The words of hatred screamed at these young people who sat in empty classrooms to be educated was horrifying. How were they able to summon the strength to go into combat every day?


I realized how young people in the present day, of any race or ethnicity, know very little about the actual people who fought and lived through those turbulent times. Unfortunately, for too many young people, the fight continues into the Twenty-First Century. They need to know what happened before them in order to bolster their strength, courage and resilience to keep fighting for education, freedom and civil rights for themselves and all Americans. Melba Beals was one of the Little Rock Nine. She tells her story from recollections in her diary, making this both a very personal story and the story of a nation. This is why Warriors Don’t Cry is an excellent choice for our YAL conference. — Susan Garr


YAL Conference Workshop
Warriors Don't Cry
Beverly Rowls, Presenter