Melba Pattillo Beals
Melba Pattillo Beals
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Warriors Don't Cry:  A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High
ISBN: 0785752528
Warriors Don't Cry
Ms. Beals discussed her book, Warriors Don't Cry, which details her experiences as part of the first integrated class of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The author recalls how she and eight other black teenagers integrated the school as a result of the Brown v. Board of Education segregation case decision. President Eisenhower had to enforce integration in the school with National Guard troops in September 1957.
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TRANSCRIPT
Warriors Don't Cry
Program Air Date: November 27, 1994

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Melba Pattillo Beals, "Warriors Don't Cry"--where does that come from?
Ms. MELBA PATTILLO BEALS, AUTHOR, "WARRIORS DON'T CRY": Grandmother said, `Everybody's a warrior on the battlefield for the Lord,' and she used to sing a song, "I'm on the Battlefield for My Lord." And so it comes from that, from her singing, and also from the experience I had with the 101st Airborne, the soldiers who were warriors, who came down to guard us when I was going to school at Central High.
LAMB: Central High is where?
Ms. BEALS: Little Rock, Arkansas, Central High. 1957 it was like a major bastion of white segregation in the South because it was ranked among the top high schools in the country. And it was where the elite children of Little Rock attended school. And it was--one believes--the last place they would have wanted to have black children come. And in order to stay there, get there, be there, President Eisenhower, indeed, ultimately had to send soldiers--warriors.
LAMB: What year are we talking about?
Ms. BEALS: 1957--September of 1957. We're really talking about that whole period because, you know, in 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education said `Separate is not equal,' and thus began this whole event of the South to integrate and not integrate, and this whole almost warringlike environment or atmosphere wherein most white people said, `No, we're not going to integrate. We don't care what the Supreme Court says.' And federal judges said, `Yes, you will integrate.' And so then everybody said, `Well, how can we do it with as little as possible? How can we stingily integrate?' And that's what they did in Little Rock. They stingily agreed to integrate.
LAMB: On the cover of your book is an artist's rendition of what?
Ms. BEALS: This is the Norman Rockwell rendition of a small child being escorted to school by sheriffs--Southern sheriffs. And it's kind of, I think, meant by him to have been a generic essence of what was going on at the time--a small black girl with these very tall white sheriffs escorting them in school.
LAMB: Is that you in the piece of art?
Ms. BEALS: Well, not really. I was quite a bit taller than that, and quite a bit older than that child is there. But I think the picture reflects--tells the story. It's certainly not a picture that--that--that I in the beginning chose. But as I've gotten accustomed to it, I think it immediately tells you what this book is about. It's about this child's struggle to go to this school, unknowingly to change what was going on at the time--the traditions of the time.
LAMB: Set the scene for us. Where were you in 1957?
Ms. BEALS: In 1957, September, I had just come back from heaven. To me, heaven was Cincinnati, Ohio. I had just had my first trip out of the South, having realized that all of my daydreams were true, that there was a place where I could be free and I could breathe. There was a place where black folks ate in white folks' restaurants, and there was a place where a white man played music to make my meal go down. And so I was, like, flying high in August of 1957.
LAMB: Why had you gone to Cincinnati?
Ms. BEALS: Just to visit relatives, just as a happenstance. I had been embroiled, or at least paying a lot of attention to what was going on--reading the newspaper constantly, every day, because in 1954 I was almost raped just immediately after the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision had come down. And so I said I was going to read the newspaper because I wanted to know when white men got angry. And sometimes I had to spend my own nickel for it. But--so I was very well aware that, in Little Rock, Arkansas, the topic of the moment was whether to integrate schools, where to integrate schools, how to do it with the least amount of black children involved.
LAMB: How old were you in '57?
Ms. BEALS: Fifteen.
LAMB: And you went to what school before you went to Central High School?
Ms. BEALS: Horace Mann.
LAMB: What's that?
Ms. BEALS: Which was the all-black high school there--a very small high school, one-story. We drove around, oddly enough, Central High School a lot, because my mother was getting her master's degree and it was like--she was doing it at the University of Arkansas, and that was kind of on a pathway, a Sunday drive that we took past this grandiose seven- or six-story-high building, like a castle four blocks square, something quite beyond my imagination. I couldn't even imagine what was in all those rooms, but I knew I wanted to see it.
LAMB: And what was home like? Where did you live in Little Rock and how many folks did you live with and...
Ms. BEALS: 1121 Cross Street. I lived with my grandmother, India Annette Peyton, who had been the main center of my life, all of my life. My mother, Lois Pattillo, was a teacher. She had gotten, by that time, her master's degree, herself integrating the University of Arkansas classes in order to do so, but very subtly so, very quietly so, not a big row over it--just talking about it over the dinner table. My little brother, Conrad, lived with us. He was then, at the time, nine--I suppose, nine, 10, 11--11, at the time, and that's all. My parents, at this point, were divorced. My father visited on a regular basis. He was very hostile towards my mother's decision to allow me to go to Central High School.
LAMB: By the way, what are you doing here in San Francisco?
Ms. BEALS: I've been here since I was 16--17 years of age. When I left Central High School, I came to the north, escaping the Klan. Got off a plane, was met in Santa Rosa by about 15 white people, annoyingly. And I went to live with a white family, Dr. and Mrs. George McCabe, who still are Mom and Dad to me, who still live in--they live up in Occidental, California, and they walked me over the bridge to adulthood. They brought me back the sanity and the love and the consciousness I needed to move on to another space in my life. And they taught me the definition of equality, not by what was in the dictionary, but by how they treated me.
LAMB: Are you married?
Ms. BEALS: Divorced. Have a daughter who is now living in Los Angeles, has graduated from UCLA and is working on her acting career, sometimes works for me in my public relations business.
LAMB: Did you go to college?
Ms. BEALS: San Francisco State University, Columbia University for a graduate degree in broadcast journalism and film, was an NBC newscaster, worked for the Public Broadcasting Station here first, KQED, on the famous newsroom where I cut my teeth on journalism with some of these very seasoned ladies and gentlemen, and I'm very pleased with that backdrop to my life.
LAMB: Why this book now?
Ms. BEALS: Took me a long time to cough it up, was very difficult to write--very difficult to write. I always thought that one day someone would walk in and there'd just be this large brown puddle of tears, and it would be me, you know. It took therapy; it took focus; it took prayer to get it up, to talk about it, to remember it all, to be able to talk about it from a neutral pedestal. I did not want to write the book through any veil of hostility, but just to simply tell you my story and let you decide what you think about it.
LAMB: How'd you remember all this?
Ms. BEALS: Kept a diary. I write things down incessantly. I mean, I hear snatches of conversation on a bus or in a lobby, so I always have kept notes, scraps of paper or, in this case, a diary. I actually have a little pink diary with a little white girl on it with a ponytail, which was one of my diaries given to me my grandmother--by Grandmother, that locked, because I used to talk too much. Grandmother--you know, I used to say things like, you know, `People are like clothes on a coat hanger--our souls are the coat hanger and the clothes can be interchanged. We're not our bodies; we're our souls.' Grandmother would say, `Shh, darling. Write that down. Don't tell everything.'

And so I was very--kind of psychic as a child, predicting, at one point, a cousin's death, saying, `Oh, I think Debra's going to drown soon.' Grandmother'd say, `Shh, don't talk about that. Write that down.' And so that's how I started writing things down, because people thought I was a little strange. So she would say, `Write letters to God,' or, `Write it down,' because as early as five, I would say, you know, `Wait a minute, now what's going on here? Are the white folks going to be in charge forever, or is it that we're going to be in charge you know, come June to December? They're in charge now. I mean, how did this whole system get set up? You say everything's equal; you say God loves us all. Well, Grandma, what's going on?' you know. And she'd say, `Shh, write a letter to God.' So the who--that--hence, the whole-- the writing thing was an early thing in my life.
LAMB: Back in September of 1957, how were you chosen to integrate Central High School?
Ms. BEALS: Simple thing. Two years before, in 1955, just after the Brown vs. the Board, a teacher came through class--black class--all-black class--and said, `Which of you live near Central High School and would like to go?' I put my hand up. I was always a girl who would do anything once, and I was always curious about what was inside that school. So I merely put my hand up and I went away, you know. I didn't say anything to my parents about it. I just put my hand up, said, `Yeah, I'll go.' `Sign here.' And it wasn't until August, when we were in Cincinnati, Ohio, of 1957 that news came up saying that these people were going to go and the big row about the whole thing, and my dad called my mom and said, `You know they're talking about your kid, don't you?' And, you know, as my Grandmother said, ‘All Hades broke loose.’
LAMB: How many were there?
Ms. BEALS: Originally there were 16, but we dwindled to nine because people got frightened because of threats of violence. The circumstances emerged as time went on.
LAMB: What's the first threat of violence you can remember?
Ms. BEALS: Just hearing people say, `We're going--we don't want those niggers in our school'; just hearing that kind of definitive statement and hearing what they were willing to do. The hearingness of the mood was to me the first thing that made the site of my heart hurt, made my feelings sad, made me want to cry--the thought that someone would kill me, the threat of killing. The actual feeling of physical violence was the first day we went to school. I went with my mom, and we were with--we were supposed to meet the other eight children at a certain point. And there were some white ministers, etc. And we missed that point. We came up sort of behind a crowd that was directly across the street in front of Central High School.

And the whole crowd at this point was--it was like going to a football game--you know, a big game and you hear all this row or rodeo. And we walked up behind this crowd, trying to figure out, `What are they focusing at? What are they looking at?' They were looking across the street. And, of course, what they were looking at was my little friend, Elizabeth Eckford, walking the gauntlet--that famous picture that you see of her walking up and down in front of those troops, trying to get access to the sidewalk that would lead her to the front door of Central High School.

And we're watching her do this and we're hearing the crowd yell, and we're watching what's going on, and it's like being on Mars. Our minds can't compute. We've never seen anything like this, never felt anything like this, never been in this mob setting, don't know why the police standing around in uniform. `Don't police help? Police help people, don't they? Don't they stop violence?' `Of course, they do. They're going to help her any minute.' But they weren't. `Troops are--troops--the soldiers, they have guns. Why do they have guns? Why is she walking up towards them and they're not helping her?'
LAMB: Here's the dedication to your book that you have in the front of the book, and you list the others. Are they all alive today?
Ms. BEALS: Yes, very much--some of them grandpas and grandmas; two of them,as a result of this incident, elected to go abroad, and have never, ever lived in this country--Minnijean Brown in Canada, and Gloria Ray Karlmark in The Netherlands.
LAMB: They moved to those countries on purpose.
Ms. BEALS: Absolutely--have never, ever lived there. There have lived their whole adult lives there--married there, had their children there, etc. I've only seen them twice.
LAMB: Still angry?
Ms. BEALS: Painful, not angry--in pain--in deep pain. I don't think either one of us--we were all together--actually, President Clinton--then Billy Clinton to us--Billy brought us together in 1987 at the mansion--the mansion where Governor Faubus had sat and planned our demise. And I don't think angry; pain--in pain--in deep pain--hurt; not angry; more now dealing with the pain of it all.
LAMB: Go back again to the beginning, the first day.
Ms. BEALS: So we are watching Elizabeth walk this gauntlet and all of a sudden the men surrounding us say, `Well, wait a minute. We got us a nigger right here.' And they're saying to her, `Nigger, go home. Nigger, go back to where you belong.'
LAMB: What aged--people?
Ms. BEALS: Fifteen is Elizabeth. But the people around us--that surround her are--are adults, older; some of them students, but most of them adults. The people that are surrounding us are adults--some men in suits, some men in overalls; adult human beings behaving the way I'd been taught no one behaves--screeching violent epithets--you know, just really cursing, but saying mostly very ugly things. And at first your ear doesn't hear. Your ear does not--and your mind, can't--can't make all this make sense, because, you know, where are you? What's happening? What's going on? And then the people nearest to us said--and just as we were trying to figure out what are we going to do about Elizabeth--`Should we go get her, or what should we do?'--Mother said, `I think we'd do her more harm by going across the street.' Then we thought, `Well, OK, the police are going to intervene,' but they didn't. But then the men around us started saying, `Hey, we don't have to worry, we got us a nigger right here.'
LAMB: Who was president at the time?
Ms. BEALS: Eisenhower. Eisenhower's president.
LAMB: And what's his attitude about all this?
Ms. BEALS: He doesn't know about this yet, because this is the first Monday we went. And so it's like the first big effort in the South to integrate this at this level--the first official pronounced decision, voted upon, agreed upon, supposedly, in the city effort. `This is how we're going to do this.'
LAMB: Why Little Rock?
Ms. BEALS: I think--I have no idea why Little Rock, to tell you the truth. But part of what made this so big, I believe, was Governor Faubus' defiance of federal law.
LAMB: Did you ever meet him?
Ms. BEALS: Yeah. Yeah.
LAMB: When?
Ms. BEALS: Quite a bit--just after the incident, at a distance, not--you know, just, `This is the governor. These are the nine'--kind of thing. Not, `Hello, how are you'--look you in the eyeball kind of thing--more seeing than meeting.
LAMB: Did you ever ask any of the people back then why they hated blacks so much?
Ms. BEALS: Many times, because they would say, `You don't have a right to go to school with our children. You're not good enough. We don't want you with our children. You stink. You're stupid,' you know. `You can't go--you--you're here to wash our dishes, clean our kitchens. You can't go to school with our children.'
LAMB: What was the rest of the country doing at that point? How many people in Cincinnati knew about Little Rock then?
Ms. BEALS: Quite a few. We were getting letters, phone calls. It was beginning to be a national news event. And, again, at the end of that year, it would be voted the biggest--one of the top 10 news events of the year. Reporters, by the second time we went back to school, are en masse, coming to Little Rock, just thousands of reporters from around the world, all sorts of places. And then our lives now are in some ways being dictated by these events around us.

After that first time I tried to go to Central High School and then came home--had to come home, had to escape for our lives--we had to run away from the men who were carrying the ropes to hang us. That was the first real time, real violence--that somebody actually struck me, reached out at me, held a rope up, said what they were going to do with it. So once...
LAMB: Why didn't they, by the way?
Ms. BEALS: God, prayer, faith, running, running, running for my life, my mother running, my mother throwing the keys at me and saying, `You drive away. Leave me here,' my mother swearing, for the first time slapping me in the face, saying, `Get out of here.' She'd just been teaching me to drive in the grocery store, and so just fate, God. `Please, God, help me.'
LAMB: Mom still alive?
Ms. BEALS: My mother is 83 years of age, still very much alive, just gave me a lecture this morning, `Am I going to church on Sunday?' Let's see, the last letter I wrote her, she corrects in red and remails it back to me. She's with the program. Listen, Ma is still driving her little red car to church on Sunday, still teaching a Sunday school class.
LAMB: Where?
Ms. BEALS: In Little Rock, Arkansas. My brother--little Conrad was just appointed by the president as the first black U.S. Marshal in the history of the South--Conrad, who was the first black trooper--the first black trooper in the troopers that kept us out of that school. Time changes things.
LAMB: Did your mother and brother read your book?
Ms. BEALS: Yes.
LAMB: What do you remember them reacting to?
Ms. BEALS: Well, my brother called me and he had tears in his voice, and he said, `You really can write. You really can write. And I love you and I'm sorry. It--what a good book. I couldn't put it down.' And my mother--see, I always knew I had to write a book that both my mother, and were my grandmother alive, would approve of. And the process of writing this book as you see it was almost as difficult as attending Central High School. The first publisher I had was kind of a caretaker, plantation owner kind of guy, a Southern--a former Southerner, who wanted to take over the process and wanted to direct in accordance with his lens, or his vision of where it should go. And I said, `Always, it must be told through the eyes of the child; never through the eyes of an adult, who then puts the layers of judgment over what happened.' I just wanted the incidents to stand alone, uncommented upon--just, `This is what happened.'
LAMB: When was the first--when did you really get serious about doing this book?
Ms. BEALS: Oh, I was serious two years after I left Central High. I was serious during the time I was there. I was taping notes, writing it down, because it was just too big for me to handle. I couldn't tell anybody everything that was happening. I couldn't tell my grandma, even, everything that was happening. I could only tell God about it.
LAMB: But we're 37 years later, and--but when in the modern time did you get serious?
Ms. BEALS: I have 12 drafts of it...
LAMB: Twelve?
Ms. BEALS: ...minimally, 12 drafts of it.
LAMB: Twelve separately written drafts?
Ms. BEALS: Absolutely. I have boxes at home of that book.
LAMB: When did you write the first one?
Ms. BEALS: When I was 19; but before that, even a kind of collection of loose pages of it.
LAMB: When was the first time you took it to a publisher?
Ms. BEALS: Probably not until I was 37, 36, something like that.
LAMB: And what was the first reaction?
Ms. BEALS: `Keep writing. This is good. You--yes, we're interested. We want this. Do this, that or the other. You've got to spew'--the first time I sent this to an agent, I have a friend Danielle Steele, who introduced me to her agent, and her name is Phyllis. We called her `god.' And she was very instrumental, Phyllis was, in helping me along this pathway, although she was not my agent ultimately, when it was published. That was Sandra Dijkstra.

But Phyllis--the first time I wrote this book, it was like 380 pages long and only 70 pages were about the actual incident. And so Phyllis said, `You're not really ready to spew this story yet. You must do some work.' And, indeed, I went back into therapy, dealt with it, prayed about it, just--I had to live with this. I had to get this up. It was like a concrete in my gut, a solid concrete bolt of pain in my gut that I had to get up piece by piece.
LAMB: What kind of therapy?
Ms. BEALS: All kinds of therapy. You know, going to the Marin County kinds of guru groups, going to a therapist the whole thing, you know; talking about it, trying to get it up, trying to be able to say how I felt, the pain of it--therapy of sitting with it, reading about it--reading, most of it done personally, in terms of reading about, `OK, what should this be like?' And then the therapy of writing about it, just writing over and over again. `This is what happened.' Writing down to the core of my feelings, then allowing them to come up.

For example, one morning I remember rising at 5 and crying from 5 to 12, and then being able to write, sitting in the room by myself; spent a lot of time by myself to write this book, almost a solid year by myself, didn't work, supported by my daughter, actually. I couldn't have done it without her to write the book. So it was a long time--a lot of dealing with myself in it, a lot of going to school to learn how to write, to get the craft down. Although I have a master's in broadcast journalism, there was a difference in the languaging, and so this took a lot of my energy and a lot of my time.
LAMB: Where did you write it?
Ms. BEALS: In San Francisco.
LAMB: Right here.
Ms. BEALS: Right here in San Francisco.
LAMB: In your home?
Ms. BEALS: In my home. And then down--ultimately, the final draft was written in just a downstairs room of my home in Sausalito.
LAMB: And then how did you--finally, how did this particular publisher, Pocket Books...
Ms. BEALS: Pocket Books.
LAMB: ...decide to do this?
Ms. BEALS: I was having difficulty with my first publisher--great difficulty, and I wanted out. Originally, there had been a bid for the manuscript. It was a big thing in my life. It was--now this thing is written; it's wonderful. My agent, Sandra Dijkstra, had put it up for bid and several major publishers bid on it. One publisher got it and then wanted--it was this Southern gentleman I told you about--then wanted to redirect it, wanted to recarve it, wanted to say, `No, I don't want it written like this. We like this idea. I want you to go back. I want you to write it from the perspective of an adult.'

And so we battled for a year. I had a stomachache for a year because I was hell-bent on writing it in the voice that I had begun it in. Finally, when that contract didn't work out--Pocket Books had been one of the early bidders on the book, and my agent went back to Pocket Books. And fortunately, I ran into an editor at Pocket Books whose name was Julie Rubenstein, who would become my angel, in that she never once said to me, `This is what I want. This is what you have to do.' She would say to me, `Consider this,' or, `Do you really want this,' or, `So-and-so.' But she was to hold my hand along my own path. She did not lead me to a separate path.
LAMB: When did it first get into the bookstores?
Ms. BEALS: May of this year.
LAMB: How's it doing?
Ms. BEALS: Very well. It will be condensed by Reader's Digest in January. It will become a youth edition in January. Disney is looking at it as a movie.
LAMB: And what has been the reaction of people that you talk to when you go around? Have you traveled? Have you done the tour?
Ms. BEALS: I have, yes. I've done the tour. It's been enormously rewarding for me to run into people who say, `I couldn't put your book down,' or, `Your book has inspired me to do what I think I couldn't do,' or, `I'm in a lot of pain about this, that and the other.'

One woman, 70 years of age, called me up and said, `You know, I don't believe in God and I didn't believe in prayer, but I read this book and now I pray every day, and life is a little better for me.' So those kinds of things. Lots of black children saying, `You know, I've read this book and I thought my life was hard, but it was not hard, considering what you've been through. I think I'll do better.' So enormously rewarding.

Most everybody who's come to me or called me or written to me has said, `I got to do better because you did better.' And that makes me feel good. Lots of prisoners--lots of letters from prison from people saying, `You know, ouch, I thought that what happened to me in my life justified my doing what I've done, but you suffered so much more than I did, and you're not negative.' And so that has been really rewarding for me--is that people have gleaned the good in the book, the book I always wanted to be about the resurrection, not the crucifixion.
LAMB: Back to '57--leading up to the day you went into Central High School; I remember you writing about phone calls you would get at home.
Ms. BEALS: Terrific phone calls all night. My grandmother would spew Bible verses to them. They'd call up and my grandma would say, you know, `Does your mother hear you say this? Does your God know you're speaking this way?' But...
LAMB: What would they say?
Ms. BEALS: `We're going to bomb your house. We're going to be right over.'
LAMB: Who was calling?
Ms. BEALS: White people who didn't want me to go to school--segregationists, by this time, beginning to organize, beginning to get themselves together, beginning to have regular meetings, beginning to have regular rallies that we heard about, that were written about in the paper. Invitations to rallies appeared in the paper, white supremacist, you know, rallies, saying, `We don't want you--this integration, we're going to get you together, we're going to keep this from happening.'

One of--my colleague, Carlotta Walls, who was going to school, heard--there was--they found a bomb--it went off underneath her house, so that we were now beginning to experience some of the threats of violence, you know, cast against us. So we knew they weren't kidding. They were traveling the streets of Little Rock beating up black people for no reason. So by now, we were--I was sequestered in my house, couldn't go anywhere, couldn't play records, couldn't go be with my friends, couldn't go to the community center, couldn't do any of the things I'd ever done before.
LAMB: Who's Link?
Ms. BEALS: Link was a boy in school who--that is not his real name. I was recently offered by a major talk show the end of the world if I would just say his real name. He is from an aristocratic Southern family, segregationist family, a white boy who crossed the line, who saved my life, who helped me when I was in school, who became a friend.
LAMB: Do you know where he is now?
Ms. BEALS: Yes.
LAMB: Why did you not name him?
Ms. BEALS: He is still a member of an aristocratic Southern segregationist family. He has a mother and a father and children and a wife. I don't have a right to name him.
LAMB: And when was the first time you met him?
Ms. BEALS: In Central High School. He was a student, a senior. And just by accident, I was standing outside of the wrong side of the building. See, envision that this school--one of the things interesting--I was--just went there with a group of children from "The Majic Bus," and one of the things that was astounding to them was, envision that this school is two blocks long.
LAMB: Let me interrupt because those watching heard "The Majic Bus." That's Doug Brinkley's bus.
Ms. BEALS: Doug Brinkley's bus, right.
LAMB: Because he's been a guest on BOOKNOTES about the...
Ms. BEALS: Great. Well, that's a bunch of kids, you know--as you know, who travel around the country and study by actually doing. It's an action class. And one of the things that astounded these children was that the bus--that the school is so big. And so one of the physicalities--one of the physical problems of attending Central High School was not only that we were nine among 2,500, it's that this school was all these--seven stories high and two blocks long. Where are the little black kids? They're lost in the caverns of these--massive school. So you had to keep yourself together. And so one day--I think it was in March--I went out the wrong door. I was supposed to meet the folks at the other end. I went out the wrong door.
LAMB: March of '58?
Ms. BEALS: '58. I was standing out there and it was snowing. It was--it had been snowing. It was cold; a very cold Friday. And I was just tired, just numb, just absolutely jaded with this whole experience, and just, you know, try--living in a dream world, keeping my mind closed, folding my arms, trying to find some semblance of warmth.
LAMB: There's still just nine black children in the school?
Ms. BEALS: There's still just nine--by now there are eight; one's kicked out for the soup incident. And...
LAMB: Which is what?
Ms. BEALS: Well, just before Christmas of 1957, we were in the cafeteria and my colleague Minnijean Brown loves chili, and she had been knocked around terrifically. She--little by little her hope had been depleted. She had such hope that she could sing onstage. We all had this hope. I--you know, `I wear the right dresses. I comb my hair. I read. I'm cute. I sing. They'll like me soon.' And we all had this hope. And if you didn't translate that into the action of a warrior, and if you didn't translate that into, `I'm going to protect myself,' you'd die there. And Minnijean seemed not to make the translation. She seemed to keep having the hope, and so she was battered a lot more.

And in early--in December, just before we were to leave to go home for Christmas vacation, she was in line getting her chili. We were trying to pretend it was normal. It's OK. We're in this cafeteria, and there are hundreds of white students in there, and we've got our little place in the back of the room, and there are adults outside, a few guards guarding us still. But Minnijean comes down this line and she's got her soup on the tray and she's walking back towards her seat and we see her far in the distance because this cafeteria's like half the size of a football field, and we see her far and away in the distance, stopped. And we see boys on either side of her seated, but they're still jostling her. And we see them jostling back and forth, and we see her talking and you know, and I'm shaking my head. She was my dearest friend at the time, and we were just, you know, thinking `Oh, my God,' you know, because there were only like four of us there.

She'd--if we'd get into trouble, we knew we'd be killed. We'd been told. If one of us gets trapped in this cafeteria, one of us gets trapped anywhere, don't go after that person. Don't help that person. So Minnijean is trapped. I can't go get her. I can't help her. Ernie's there. We're sitting there.
LAMB: Ernie?
Ms. BEALS: Green--Ernest Green, one of the other nine. And all of a sudden, we just see this chili come off her tray and go, blah, down this other kid, you know--just grease. And the black cooks behind the counter are applauding, and there's like dead silence in there. And I'm thinking, `That's it,' you know, `I'm going to die right here today because there's too many of them and too few of us.' And I look around, and there's no adults there. And what are we going to do, you know? But we got out of there. We got Minnijean out of there. Minnijean got out of there, and it led eventually to her--that one incident would lead to a series of incidents, you know, one down and eight to go.

By then--by her response, whether by accident or on purpose, she now showed a vulnerability, and the segregationists realized the way to get these kids out of here is to provoke them, is to make them do something. So her leaving--her having to leave set us up with a real dilemma. But--so by the time I met Link, she was already gone. So I'd seen my best friend go...
LAMB: Where did she go, by the way?
Ms. BEALS: She went to New York to a school. Dr. Kenneth Clark invited her. Dr. Kenneth Clark, the black psychologist who'd been instrumental in the Brown decision, invited her to come to his home to go to a high school called New Lincoln. And, you know, we put her on a plane and, you know, we watched her get all these new clothes and go away and do what--just what we wanted to do: go away. By that time--by Christmastime, more than I wanted anything, I wanted to go away. I wanted to die. I wanted to do anything to out of there.
LAMB: Go back--before we talk about Link, to a moment just--if you were--when you'd go to school every day, what was the atmosphere? Were there police or are there troops or are there hall guards or anything like that?
Ms. BEALS: Well, you know, by the second time we went to school, because of the enormity of the mobs and the steady collection of the mobs, President Eisenhower sent the now-famous 101st Airborne Division, the Korean War heroes, the men who had been sent to battle the enemy were now guarding us, personal bodyguards. And I write a lot about my own personal bodyguard, whom I called Danny, who taught me...
LAMB: Was that his real name?
Ms. BEALS: No. Originally...
LAMB: Why?
Ms. BEALS: The original manuscripts have his real name. I decided--you know, I am told by another 101st trooper who is here, Marty Sammon, who lives in San Francisco, who calls me every now and then, that probably the guy is dead, that he probably died later in Vietnam. But, again, he's a Kentuckian, a Southerner. I don't want to put him in jeopardy. He was awfully nice to me, saved the quality of my sight, if not my sight, when people put acid in my eyes, talked to me about my posture, talked to me about my beingness. And so I don't want to do anything to jeopardize that.
LAMB: How did they try to put acid in your eyes?
Ms. BEALS: Gun--water gun--just walk up, bang, shoot in my eyes. And it was such an astounding thing because the pain was so overwhelming, I didn't know what to do. And he just grabbed my wrists and jammed my head underneath the water fountain, and I was just screaming because the pain was so searing. I couldn't think. I couldn't do anything. And when I finally got to a doctor, the doctor said, `He saved the quality of your sight, if not your sight,' because he just kept washing, kept washing, kept washing it, and, you know, he'd say, `Shut up,' and `you,' you know, `stay here.' And so I owe this man a lot. I don't want to do anything to hurt him.
LAMB: And what was his assignment--to be by your side?
Ms. BEALS: He was my personal bodyguard.
LAMB: And when would you pick him up--or when would he pick you up, as you'd get to the school?
Ms. BEALS: As we got to--as I walked across the threshold of the front door.
LAMB: And how long--where would he be all day?
Ms. BEALS: With me.
LAMB: In the classroom?
Ms. BEALS: Not in the classroom; he'd stay outside the classroom. But he'd trail me. You had personal bodyguards in your immediate perimeter, and then distant ones, and he'd be--he was like the one closest to me, responsible for me.
LAMB: What was it like in the classroom?
Ms. BEALS: Hell--a living hell. Somebody'd walk past you and drop maybe a lighted piece of notepaper in your lap, and then somebody else would come by and pour water on you. Most of the teachers, by the--say, second or third week we were in school were--even those who were most rational--were, by then, harassed by segregationists into ignoring what happened to us. There was one teacher--I need to say her name--Mrs. Pickwick, the tiniest little thing--in shorthand class, who allowed no messing around. She'd say, `Sit here, Melba. Anybody touch her, you go to the office.' So there was like a kind of oasis in my life.

And there--you know, Mrs. Huckaby, who was the assistant principal--vice principal for girls, was to become our liaison, was to become whatwhatever benevolence existed within the hierarchy of that school came through her. And she was as benevolent as she could be, I think, within the circumstance cast upon her head.
LAMB: How were your grades, by the way?
Ms. BEALS: Fair; C, B. We passed.
LAMB: Did you ever get a sense of discrimination...
Ms. BEALS: Oh, no question.
LAMB: ...on the grades?
Ms. BEALS: No question. No question about that. That isn't even an issue. I mean, that was like--you know, my mother always said, in the instance--my mother--I love my mother because, you know, as I said, she's still correcting my letters in red and returning them to me--but, you know, no matter what was going on, she'd sit me down and say, `Study,' you know. No question but that the quality of my work disintegrated, but even at my worst, I was a very, very good student. And we had trying circumstances with that. I think it was Ernie Green had a tremendous problem with it--with one teacher who was going to fail him, actually, for no reason, because he could prove that it was unfair.
LAMB: Back to Link. You keep trying to get the Link story.
Ms. BEALS: Link is a white boy who reached out to me. He, by accident one evening--as I said, I was standing in the wrong place, and earlier, you know, a couple of parents couple of days before had come and the police had stood by while snowballs with rocks had been thrown at them. So you go out the wrong place, stand in the wrong place, be at the wrong place, you could die. And I was standing in the wrong place this evening--this afternoon, after school, and Lincoln was nearby and the boy named Andy, who had been chasing me throughout that year, threatening me with a knife, threatening to kill me, was approaching me with a gang--with a group of boys who had just taunted me the whole year. And they were coming up to me, just less than a block away. And I was looking around frantically, `Do I go back into school?' I couldn't get back in the school. `What am I going to do?' you know. And Link said, `Melba, take the keys to my car and get out of here. You got to go or you're going to die.'

And I thought, `Oh,' you know, `What's he doing? He's--I'm going to get arrested driving his car. I mean, this can't be a benevolent white guy. I mean, what are we talking?' He said, `No, I'm not kidding. Take my car. I'll call you. Take my car. I'll get to you. I'll get the car back later.'

And so he saved my life that day. And I took the car. I drove home. My grandmother thought I was crazy and she rushed out and covered the whole thing with sheets--you know, with safety pins and sheets, thinking, you know, `Who's going to see this car in the neighborhood? Are you out of your mind, child, driving some white boy's car home? What's going to happen?' you know. So--but he saved my life, and he was--become a friend, a colleague, an ally, for the rest of that year.
LAMB: You started to rendezvous.
Ms. BEALS: Yeah. Write notes to each other, rendezvous, talk to each other on the phone.
LAMB: You didn't trust him?
Ms. BEALS: Not at all, because I thought, `Well, what Link's going to do is get me in a corner someplace, and the Klan is going to get me.' And, you know, by this time, we knew that white kids were being trained to taunt us, that white children--they were having classes in how to taunt us, like heel-walking--to this day, walking up here, I have pains in my right heels from people walking on my heels during that period. It was a focused, concentrated effort.
LAMB: How would they walk on your heels--from the back, you mean?
Ms. BEALS: Just come up behind you and walk on your heels all day. Think of what that feels like after a couple of days. It was just incredible, you know. It was like--you--it's like a pain you can't escape, you know. And so I thought, you know, `How could he be nice?' And he told me who his parents were, that they were involved in the segregation efforts, that his father was an avowed segregationist, that he had grown up with a black nanny, more or less. And he actually took me, at one point, to see this nanny.
LAMB: But that was a lot. I mean, you write a lot about that, going to see the black nanny.
Ms. BEALS: Yes, because that, I think, is why he could be open to me, because he really loved this woman, who had raised the second generation of this family, and had now been farmed out, sick, dying, with no Social Security, no hospitalization, no nothing--just, `You're sick. Leave, go home.' And Link would take her money and food with his allowance because he'd grown up with her all of his life. And so he took me to visit her because he wanted me to get a black doctor to go and see her.
LAMB: Did you do it?
Ms. BEALS: Oh, yeah, yeah. I got my grandmother involved and we got a doctor to go and see her. And she died the day he graduated.
LAMB: This is probably a little bit out of context but, eventually, you meet a man and marry him.
Ms. BEALS: That's right.
LAMB: And then--but he's white.
Ms. BEALS: That's right.
LAMB: How did that happen?
Ms. BEALS: He had on the uniform of my 101st guard. He had on a soldier's uniform. He was a soldier. He was an MP. And I think part of it was that, that he made me feel comfortable. He was a black belt in karate.
LAMB: Where? Where'd you meet him?
Ms. BEALS: San Francisco. But also, by that time, my heart had been opened up by my surrogate parents, by Dr. and Mrs. George McCabe. Now the blue eyes and the red hair that had meant death and torture to me was my dad, George, and my mom Carol...
LAMB: George McCabe, white.
Ms. BEALS: George McCabe, who took me to school every morning, who took me swimming, who had family holidays with me. The very first day I went to school, it was Pops who brought me to school and said, `I'm here to register my kid.' I just saw him a couple of weeks ago and had dinner. I will see him probably this weekend, he and Mom. So now the only--actually, closer to me than my own father, because I never had, you know, a real relationship with my own father.
LAMB: Is he still alive, by the way?
Ms. BEALS: He's dead. He died quite a number of years ago. But George McCabe and Carol McCabe would become real parents in my life. And so they opened my heart. They taught me that the color of hatred is neither black nor white. So by the time, you know, my husband comes into my life, I'm no longer totally closed in terms of what I think--or who I think white people are. White people are different people to me by then. They're just people who happen to be white.
LAMB: Now did you graduate from Little Rock--the Central High School?
Ms. BEALS: No, only Ernie Green at that time graduated. Later, Carlotta Walls would graduate. And I think Jeff did. But none of us--you know, after that year, Governor Faubus closed that school, and we spent a year--I spent a year at home watching soaps, out, waiting for the school to open again. And it was after that year that I came to California to be with the McCabes.
LAMB: How did he get the justification to shut the school down?
Ms. BEALS: He just closed it. He didn't need a justification. He closed it. And it took the courts a year to circumvent that. He just closed all the schools. So now in our own community we were pariahs because our own black community was by then being squeezed, choked-- the life was being choked out of it--no school, all the businesses closed down. If you were a black maid in a white hotel, you were castigated. If you were a black maid in white homes, as were many people, including my grandmother, you were castigated. So by then the black people in our community were suffering so badly that we were not popular in either community.
LAMB: So when did you fly to Santa Rosa?
Ms. BEALS: Well, my uncle passes for white. I have a relative passes for white, and he's actually in the Klan. He's a sheriff. And we'd been hearing that the Ku Klux Klan had $10,000, dead, $5,000, alive, on our heads. And he called...
LAMB: Wait--wait--wait a minute. You say he's in the Klan?
Ms. BEALS: He passes for white. That's--this is quite common, so...
LAMB: You don't mean the KKK; you mean...
Ms. BEALS: Yeah, I mean, he's a sheriff. He's now probably now retired. But, yes, he's a relative, who used to come home maybe twice a year. And so he calls up my mother and he said--you know, because he's in the circle--and he called up my mother and he says, `You know, they're going to skin her alive. Get her out of there. Get her out of there today. Get her--let her go.' Because my mother's idea was to keep me there, have me go to Philander Smith College, have me just continue living my life, go back to the black high school. But--but he called and said, `No, you got to get her out of there.'

And by then the NAACP was soliciting homes for us, safe homes across the country, because we were in great jeopardy because segregationists would do whatever it took to keep us from going back to that school. They were going to have no more integration of Central High School. They'd kill us. They'd do what it--they needed. And they were very clear about that. So I left, got on a plane, came here, got off at the San Francisco airport and I am met by all these white people, and I'm thinking, `Gosh, almighty,' you know. `This is the Klan. They're going to take me away. It's going to be the end.'

And only this year, when my dad and mom in Santa Rosa gave a party for me, did I learn why the black people didn't get there, because it was the Santa Rosa NAACP, both blacks and whites, and was--because they got separated. So it's a funny story, really.
LAMB: How--well, what was the connection with Santa Rosa in the first place?
Ms. BEALS: Well, it was the NAACP--the Santa Rosa NAACP that sponsored my coming here. So I get off at the airport and all these white people rush up to me and they say, `Hi, we're from the Santa Rosa NAACP.' Well, I think to myself, you know, `I've never seen black NAA--white NAACP.'
LAMB: And you're 17.
Ms. BEALS: Yeah, and I'm frightened out of my wits at, you know--but eventually, they would take me to live with George and Carol McCabe, and I would be welcomed into this family. There are four other children. And I would be welcomed as another child into this family, treated with the kind of equality that you could not explain on paper, or talk to me about in words, but the actions of the McCabes were what healed my wounds and turned me around.
LAMB: What year did you--how old were you when you got married?
Ms. BEALS: About 19, 20--early 20s, yeah.
LAMB: And you got married where?
Ms. BEALS: In San Francisco--actually, Reno, Nevada, I think it was.
LAMB: And how long were you married?
Ms. BEALS: Seven years.
LAMB: But at some point you and Link talk, and this--it comes up that you married a white man and he said, `But you'...
Ms. BEALS: But, see, early on he had said why couldn't I go out with him? When he was leaving for college--he was coming to go to a major Eastern college--he said, `The Klan has $10,000, dead, $5,000, alive on your head. Come with me. You come with me to a northern town. I'll take care of you. I'll protect you.' And I said, `Are you out of your mind? I don't date white men. Get out of here,' you know. `I'm not going to do that.'

And he had then--up to then just been my friend, and his sudden change frightened me, you know. And I knew the last time I saw him that I'd like never see him again. But then he continued to call me when I came here. And when I got married he said, `Wow,' you know. `You said you wouldn't even go out with me, but you married a white man.' So it was right--it was then that, you know, he stopped calling me. He was very, very angry about that.
LAMB: Did you ever--have you ever had a conversation with any of the white students that were hostile to you at Little Rock since this all happened?
Ms. BEALS: Not really with the students--with other students at Central High School. One among them, a woman named Robin, who I remember smiling at me in school, and she talks about how she was beat up with rocks because of being nice to me.

You see, in the beginning there were some children who tried to reach out a little bit, but as time progressed they were beat up, they were--you know, treated terribly for any advances or any attempts they made at befriending us. I do have a friend who is writing--a friend, an acquaintance, a white woman, who's writing a book about the anger there. And she will come back here now and then and say to me, `Be careful because their feelings are the same.'

Most of them say, `If we had it to do over again, we'd do just what we did over again.' And she always warns me, you know, `Be careful when you go to Little Rock.' But, you know, I've gone there signing books and what--most people will come up to me and say is, `Pst, come here.' And I say, `What do you want?' They say, `Just tell me who Link is, and I won't tell anybody.' Or, you know, they talk to me very friendly, or--and, you know--so Little Rock, to me, is a pretty friendly place. White people are very friendly when I go there, you know, very talkative, very chit-chatty. And, of course, my brother has remained there and he's quite respected, you know. So--I mean, I didn't--I go back there quite frequently.
LAMB: What's this all about, do you think? What's the reason--the white person, the Southern white or the Northern white for that matter, has this attitude?
Ms. BEALS: Well, I believe it's an unknowingness. `If I don't know you and know who you are, I know you're humanness.' And it's a fear for, you know, white people who feel this way have a fear of who they are. They don't have self-confidence about who they are and their ability, because, after all, aren't we talking about financial threats? We're talking about an unwillingness to share the wealth, aren't we, really?

See, segregation and integration are just other words for `We don't want to share what we've got.' You see what I mean? See, it's my theory that the Crips and the Bloods exist, and this whole violent thing that we face, partially--or a great part of that--is due to an unwillingness to bring people into the mainstream and accept them. Every Crip and every Blood was originally a third-grader who felt not accepted. And so it's about, `I eliminate you, I don't have to share with you. I don't need to see you as an equal because then I have to include you.'

So it's about a whole, big, huge umbrella of, you know, where one's heart is, not seeing your humanness because your eyes are blue and mine are not. It is about my inability to perceive that someone wonderful could look other and be other than I am. And so it's a whole deep soul kind of thing. It's a whole spiritual kind of thing.
LAMB: Where do you put race relations at today?
Ms. BEALS: I'm sad that we haven't come farther; happy that we've come as far as we have. I'm always torn because I'm a person who likes to look at the glass as half full. Hey, I'm a lady who rode in the back of the bus and tried hard to get into the white lady's bathroom. So I'm not going to complain about the ability to go to Nordie's and try on clothes, all the privileges that I have here that I didn't have before.

On the other hand, why are we even discussing this? Why are we integrating the schools? Why is there a school in Florida talking about they're going to segregate? Why are some black people saying they're going to segregate their schools? Because they haven't felt enough good out of the inclusion. So I'm saying, that this is even an issue today is problematic to me. We've solved a lot of other issues in the world. We don't get this one solved, we're not going to survive, because as the world stands in my view, I need everybody. It might be the guy in the corner, the Asian, who's going to show me how to survive the next earthquake, who's going to take my hand and pull me up out of the flood, who's going to show me how to grow a crop I can eat when I don't have anything, see. So for me, I don't see it as working unless we get this whole thing figured out.
LAMB: What's your business today?
Ms. BEALS: Writing--I hope to be my essential business for the rest of my life, and public relations and marketing. I still have a public relations company called Media Exposure. I still get a real kick out of helping people start new businesses and promote them.
LAMB: If you go back to Little Rock and the Central High School today, what's the population mix?
Ms. BEALS: It's about 60 percent--60-some percent black, under siege in terms of gangs and the whole violence that pervades the rest of the world, armed guards walking through the school, heartbreaking. Still, academically superior, a variety of people--I was just back there shooting a gig with "Good Morning America" a few months ago and was heartened by the fact that the children around me--one was Indian, one was Filipino, two were white, two were black, one was Asian--it was gorgeous. I mean, it was like this rainbow of humanity surrounding me, holding my hand, talking to me about what it's like to go to school there now.
LAMB: When you--when the kids talk to you, what do they ask you? What are the things they want to know?
Ms. BEALS: They can't envision discussions of what went on in the hallways. They can't imagine the harshness of what went on with us. They ask, you know, how did we live through it? Why were the children so angry? That kinds of things, you know, the kinds of the human perception that one human being can treat another like we were treated, takes awhile to assimilate. I mean, it takes awhile. It took me awhile, being in the school. See, every day, you sit there and you think, `Gosh, that guy's going to hit me.' Then the fist comes at you, hits you in the face or the gut, and you think, `OK, well, he did.' It takes awhile to realize that this is going to happen to you, that this kind of violence is going to go on. And so they don't realize--it's hard for them to believe and understand.
LAMB: What was the incident where that fellow came up with the gun, with the ink in it?
Ms. BEALS: My Easter dress--and that was a favorite thing of just coming up and completely spraying you. See, you look at this gun--somebody walks toward you with a gun and you think, `Oh, I'm going to die. Where's the bullet going to hit? Fine, can I survive it? Can the ambulance get here?' Well, bang, bang, and he completely inks up my dress and this happened a lot--inks, eggs, foul-smelling liquid--every imaginable indignity. And yet, at the end of every day, my grandmother would say to me something I try to remember at the end of every day I have, `What was the blessing in this day? What was good about it? Who smiled at you? What wonderful thing happened to you today? What did you learn?'
LAMB: You say two of your original nine are living in another country.
Ms. BEALS: That's right.
LAMB: Canada...
Ms. BEALS: And The Netherlands.
LAMB: Did you ever talk to them about coming back?
Ms. BEALS: They don't want to. They wanted to escape the sting of what we endured.
LAMB: Do they get any of this in those other countries?
Ms. BEALS: Not really, no. Different--different rules, different--different rules--totally different rules. They are--have married whites, have white children--half-white children, live in mostly all-white communities and the judgment is a different call. As Gloria Ray Karlmark talks about, the judgment where she lives in The Netherlands is education, money, and she can certainly meet that criteria. She's, you know, an enormous executive, head of a publishing company, doing her thing there; whereas here, it would have taken her a lot longer to do it.
LAMB: How many of the nine wrote books?
Ms. BEALS: I'm the only one thus far.
LAMB: Anybody else trying to write a book?
Ms. BEALS: I believe early on Terry did try to write a book and found it it untenable. I think one of them did, yeah. He found it very difficult. He's a psychotherapist--a psychologist, actually. And we talked about the harshness of it, the difficulty of it. I must tell you that, you know, it took an enormous toll on my life, an enormous toll on my beingness. But when I hold that book in my hand--I have a large copy of the cover on my wall at home, and I cannot tell you what it meant to me to hold the book in my hand, because the pain is in the book now. I can talk to you about it. I can walk away from it. I can leave it. Before I could not.
LAMB: Did you have to leave anything out because of space?
Ms. BEALS: Yes, and also because the first manuscript was 800 pages long, or it was 700 pages long and weighed about eight pounds, and also because the author--the editor thought that the extent of the violence would really turn the reader off, and so we cut some of it out.
LAMB: What are the chances that there will be a Disney movie?
Ms. BEALS: There were three major companies bidding on it--I don't know if I should say Disney or not and it looks as though we have--will be signing a contract with Disney.
LAMB: What do you want the movie to show?
Ms. BEALS: The humanness of my family, the realness of my grandmother and my mother, that black people are real people, not cardboard characters. And--and when people leave, I want them to have--to be inspired and to understand the enormity--this is why I wrote this book--I want people to understand the enormity of mistreating another human being, the enormity, the impact of that. No matter what the context of it, to assume that you ever have the right to mistreat another human being is wrong. You don't. You don't have a right to deflower that spirit, you see. So that's why I wanted to write this book, because I believe if I put it on paper, people would understand why it's wrong to do that.
LAMB: Who are the leaders in that period that you most respect?
Ms. BEALS: In terms of--Thurgood Marshall, Goody, of course, was--to us, he was this big, tall man who came down South, who--we talked about freedom. He'd lived it; he breathed it; he told us it was going to be OK.`You're going to walk through this.'

Wiley Branton was another attorney who helped us. All of the people of the NAACP--of course, Mrs. Daisy Bates was a local woman who supported us. Our parents were like soldiers, you know. They were always there for us, taking the brunt of the pain. Each of them in their own arenas sustained themselves somehow. My mother, of course, fired, as you know in the book, from her teaching job. Oh, we almost lost our foothold there. And so our parents are really heroes and heroines, because how painful. I look at the film and--"Eyes on the Prize" now. I'm not certain I could drive up to a mob and drop my kid off to go to school. I'm not sure I could do that. I look at it and I think to myself, `This is crazy. They actually drove up, opened the door and said, `Tst, tst (kissing), goodbye, darlings, have a good day.' And there's a crowd--there's a mob out there.
LAMB: Your mother used the local newspaper to get her job back?
Ms. BEALS: Yeah. Well, you know, she was--she actually, you know, was the forerunner of my PR company. I mean, we sat down. We had to figure it out. We were doing everything we could, and finally Grandma and Mother sat down and they figured out that what they had to do was they had to get--they had to let people know, they had to get some press, they had to get the fact that she was being fired and threatened, her job was taken away, not because she wasn't a good teacher, but because I was in Central High School.
LAMB: How long did you work for NBC?
Ms. BEALS: What?--six and a half, seven years, it must be. Yeah.
LAMB: Street reporter?
Ms. BEALS: Yeah, yeah, some anchoring, but mostly a street reporter here.
LAMB: Why did you leave the business?
Ms. BEALS: Well, you know, really after I was offered another job in LA, because I had a baby, a daughter, who I was watching grow up without my being present, and I wanted to be with her. I almost went to med school as well, but I couldn't do that because I needed to be with my daughter. I needed to be her mother. I was a single parent, and that's when I started to start a business at home and work at home. And also because after you do seven, eight years of stories, you've really done most of them. And I knew I had to reconfigure my life.

I'm very grateful for that period. It grew me up. Being a news reporter took me from being this little girl from Little Rock and made me the adult that I am today. It was a school--a laboratory for me, and I'm so grateful for that period, because it exposed me to a world I neither knew nor understood. It was fabulous.
LAMB: Here’s what the cover of the book looks like –“Warriors Don’t Cry,” the title, Melba Pattillo Beals, thank you very much for joining us.
Ms. BEALS: My pleasure.
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