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When this part of focus 580 we'll be talking with Melba Beals. She is one of a group of African-American students who back in 1957 integrated Central High School and Little Rock and they came to be known as the Little Rock Nine. The governor of the state resisted the integration effort and ultimately President Eisenhower had to send in troops to enforce the Supreme Court ruling and to make it possible for these young people to go to class. They made it through that year facing continuous harassment and at the end of the year the governor of the state of Arkansas closed all the schools just to keep them from coming back. After that she went on to live in California because her parents decided maybe it would be a good idea if she wasn't having to deal with that and the kind of level of threat she experienced there in Little Rock. She went on to have a career in journalism she went to Columbia University. She worked as a news reporter for the
public television station in San Francisco that's KQED and also for an NBC affiliate there. She has written two books about her experiences warriors don't cry which was about her experiences growing up in Little Rock and leading up to the event. And then also a book that takes up right after that a book that's titled White is a state of mind now she's been a lot of time traveling around speaking and so forth and she's going to be here on the UI campus next week. So we will get that information together so we can pass it on to you. And of course here on this program anybody who was interested in calling in asking questions making comments should feel welcome to do that. Here in Champaign Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5 1 a thing I did want to mention here in terms of the kind of recognition that she has received in 1999 all nine of the students who integrated the
school were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. That's the nation's highest civilian honor. And as I say she's joining us by telephone. Ms Beals Hello. We got to we got her there. I'm not quite sure what the problem is I think we had her there on the phone. We'll just we'll just check it out here and we'll get a go on if you like to call in by the way here ask a question make a comment we do have two different numbers of you here in Champaign Urbana where we are the number to call is 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. We do also have that toll free line and that one good anyplace that you can hear us and that's 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5 ms Beals. Yes good morning go. I'm fine thanks and thanks very much for talking with us. Thank you I warn you that our phones none of them have a singular line so if you hear that phone ring it's definitely me. Oh OK. Hopefully nothing will get everybody will pick up quickly.
But I'm giving you a warning. Wonderful to talk to you this morning and I hear the weather's great there I hear you're up to 40 degrees today. Yeah Right now it's 42 and it's pretty nice so we're looking at some very pleasant spring like the weather the kind of thing that after the winter you finally thinking about actually getting out and you know maybe raking the leaves you should have done last fall. Although you didn't exactly are just getting out and breathing deeply. EXE Yes. Yes I'm looking for that and doing something that doesn't involve thinking about work. Well we're deep in rain. It's been raining I really think I'm a duck I bet it's lovely brown feathers. We've been raining for many days and we expect to rain through Sunday. Oh well maybe it'll be old dryer here when you arrive here next week. That would be great. Well I'm interested in having for people who are not familiar with with your story and asking some really basic questions about your experiences there when you were a girl in Little Rock and maybe just to talk a force so people can understand why it was you felt that it was so important for you and
your your fellow students to go to the school that had been exclusively white candidates to stand in for going after you to have a circumstance in which I lived. I rode in the back of the bus I drank from water fountains more colored and every year we would get new school things only they weren't new they were the used ones that the white kids had used a couple years like peoples with three legged typewriters with not all the keys and soiled books. The decision to go to Central High School was based on one thing. It ranked thirty fifth in the nation. Even back then as a building just as an institution it was eight square blocks in diameter with seven storeys beautifully equipped. Many of the people who left there as graduates were Rhodes Scholars going to the Big 8. So it had the all the amenities that the black school did not have the blacks it was a very small
place with steel vanities few opportunities. So the reason for going. You know people are really strange they often ask me gee did you go just because you went as if by white people. No I didn't. I went because there in lay an opportunity for me to make my life bigger and better and that is why the decision to go because into high school also use my mother's tax money to buy all that good stuff that I didn't have. The image I mean they had like apartments set up as kitchens for home economics which were beaten back that they had a bad pit with all the latest instruments and they had the four wonders of computers. This is a beautiful plant. Just basically. And it seems this is this is obviously very important because in all things I've read about you interviews and stories in which you're quoted it seems that you always make that point that this was not in your mind this was not about integration this was about opportunity for you and going to what was not only was the best school in town it was one of the best schools in the country and you felt your preacher was you know people shouldn't confuse
your decisions here and people should. I always when I talk like I give diversity seminars for faculty and you know universities around the country I say let's get clear here. The definition of integration integration is not a word stands on its own. Integration really means access to opportunity for my particular point of view. You could never say the word integration again. You can erase it from the dictionary. But what is apropos here what we need it was access. Because when you are shut out when anybody shot up from the main stream of opportunity you need access. All I want to choice I want to marry you I want my two cars in the garage I'm a material girl. I wanted the opportunity to do what I've got which is to make the best career I can make. After the Supreme Court made its ruling in one thousand fifty four. At that point the decision was made I'm sure in the various
places people said well we know that the court has said that separate but equal is not going to fly anymore. We're going to go and we're going to seize that kind of opportunity but to say that and then actually do it. That's another thing how how was it that it happened to be you know you and these other young people that were the ones that were going to be you know going to push it there in Kansas in Little Rock The court said that the schools had to integrate. They mail it in the beginning they chose one hundred and sixteen people who had good grades who could do it. No. Then the Little Rock school board said we're not going to the mall. Don't be silly. We're going to do Central High School and eventually because of the threat and because of the decisions of the school board it was responding to nine people. Those nine people had to have excellent grades and no history of violence.
You were just 15 years old at the time 15 going on 16 15 going on 16. That's an awful lot for a 15 year old. Awful lot of weight for a 15 year old to carry. Well you know as a 15 year old course we didn't understand you know what we're doing. We didn't we didn't think of it as large as it was going to become. We thought we go to this new school we had like a new school we be unwelcome a little bit at first we had no idea that people would get their guns out and get their ropes out and gather in mass to keep us out. What happens is that when you went to to go with the not only were there was there this mob there rampaging mobs and when I see pictures of that today on eyes on the prize or any of the film that's right absolutely. Wonder what my parents were thinking and what I was thinking at the time I mean we're talking hundreds of people with ropes around their shoulders
and ugly plans for my body. But we didn't get that. I mean I didn't get it. So to say that at the time I was a heroine you'd be incorrect and naive would be another. Unsuspecting would be in the who were and certainly you know it felt like my mother would later say my mother was very bright. And a professor who spoke you know six languages now and they're in a coma she's quite ill but she and in hindsight will say that it felt like an in the works that will trip as though God had planned this happening it felt as though we were all being ushered down this spiritual road of philosophical road and things happened so fast that decision making was sometimes left to the moment. Our guest in this part of focus 580 Melba Beals she is one of the Little Rock Nine who sought to desegregate Central High in Little Rock Arkansas back in 1957 successfully although it did take an order by the president backed by federal troops to get them
admitted she tells that story in her book warriors don't cry and there's another that follows period after that. White is a state of mind. So if you're interested in reading about her story you can look for those books. Also she will be giving a talk on the campus on Monday talking on the topic integration then and now and her speech will be at 7:00 o'clock in the evening at the A-line a union on the UI campus and I'm sure anyone interested in hearing her should feel welcome to attend here on this program of course questions are welcome 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. We do also have a toll free line good anywhere that you can hear us. 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5. We have caller here someone on a cell phone who'd like to talk. And I want one. Hello. Oh yes. First of all I want to say that I was born in 1956 of a biracial couple and of course heard about your guest. My whole life growing up and always wondered where he
found the courage and you have just said that initially not a lot of courage was perhaps involved because you didn't know what you were facing. You had no idea what was upcoming. I understand that but. After you knew what made you come back the second week the first week after Christmas break it during or where did you find the courage to continue. Thank you for the question. You know it's a really simple prayer. You know when I was writing my book all of the editors that came past would always say that. Tell us what really happened here. I mean tell us what why you really were able to go back. Very simple prayer. I was a very religious young lady. Now about the third time I went to Central High School I really became quite aware of the fact that people are willing to kill us. You know as I was that awful picture that you see of Elizabeth Eckford walking down that strip in front of the school but no
one to protect her with way people sort of at her heels barking. And when she got home that day you could bring the saliva out of her dress. But during that scene we were on the other side and that was the first time my mother and I you know up close and personal these gentlemen with ropes around their shoulders were threatened to hang us. And that's when I realized wait a minute. Integration is a huge word because we had to race to our car. We barely got away but was also on that day that I discovered what my. Grandmother had that was too she always said all my life because of a very religious family. To church three four times we nearly every Sunday. Lots of prayer. I mean anything with a prayer on your nice prayer. And so she always said to me God is as close as your skin you have but to us and you'll be helped you'll get the help. So here we are we're being chased down the block by these men who are telling us what they're going to do to us. You know we've got a figure right here we're going to hang on to that a debt a debt we're going to do to you before we hang you and my mother and I are running up the street trying to get back to our car and this guy reaches out and grabs my mother's
behind me grabs her jacket pulls the backward and almost gets a hold of her but at this point I tested gram out I said OK God. And I started. You know 20 30 of them in the Lord's Prayer and by some great helping hand the men who were running behind us we ran a round brush that was on the road. They didn't look down the see it the first guy tripped. And that set up a domino effect where that gave us just a few seconds we needed to get to the car. So yes indeed there is no magic to this. The only thing I can tell you is the magic of prayer every day every moment. I know for example that you can say the Lord's Prayer 13 1/2 times going from the first to the third floor so that it prayer and also very strong grandma and mother you know very very strong. My mother grew up to become a teacher but that's because she walked two miles a day to school. My grandmother worked as a
maid and in the Whiteley's kitchen for a dollar a day but came home at night to read Shakespear. She would take books out of their garbage cans and restore them restore Globes for us so you know learning was the essence of our life. And the Bible was the base of it. We were bible thumpers. OK. Well thank you very much. Thank you. I want to say when the thing was off because there's no alternative when things are going so rough for you you seek a way out. And there was no alternative for me. People having a big discussion today about did brown work. Well hello folks there was no alternative. What were we going to do. You know not only that was this very hard on you and the other students. It was also very hard on your families because they they experienced an awful lot of pressure. The community put pressure on them all the ways that they could to pull you out of the school. Absolutely. My mother lost her job at one point and pressure was put on by the media
and by the local bishop to get her her job back because my mother was a single parent my folks were the voice and my mother was my sole supporter. I had a younger brother who would grow up to become captain the Arkansas State Police first black one the first black U.S. Marshal You know ever appointed in the south in his district. But all of that was because we had really really strong folks. But on the other hand all of the Little Rock Nine I got long ago wrote an article about it something six out of nine of those people lost their jobs. One of the fathers car lot of Lanier's dad had to leave Arkansas to go work in St. Louis. He worked a bit I think in Chicago as well as a contractor because he no longer worked in Arkansas. You know this is also not a story just about the struggle of black people. It's a story about the people who also helped us rabbis preach then some of the white men got together and for the one Jefferson Thomas's dad they actually gave him jobs
around their houses to sustain him. So there were there were Christians there were people in there. Christians are not Jews. Everybody sort of sort of chimed in that the people who had spirit to support us Quakers came down from the north to back us and teaches nonviolence a lot of people gave a lot. Some gave their lives for this effort. We'll talk with someone else here in Bloomington Indiana line number four toll free line below. You described some racial hate and that is almost incredible. And the one you hate badly when people hate them mentally. They don't feel good. That's feel good to him that way. Instead describe their souls most of them blighted this and it has it has anyone commented that the people really knew even when they finally were free of that recorder were they free of that I've heard you must have had some experience because the people who hated them badly then
they were but I did them sort of one thing I would agree with you that that kind of hatred always eats you and offend. That incident on the Oprah Winfrey Show I met a couple of the people she had a show a couple years ago where she had on there some of the people that had sort of tortured us and some of them were actually quite apologetic. It was really interesting that one guy was a guy who did nothing to job during the time it was to walk on my heels and everybody walk on your Achilles tendon. You know I'm here to tell you it hurts. I'm now 62. It's killed on a damp day if I walk I feel that. That guy said well he thought maybe he had a crush on me. Oh do forgive him and I said you know I I have. I am not yet to the level that Mother Teresa has attained. I cannot in all honesty tell he's that I'm able to dine with you I have forgiven you.
And one of the things that's been important to me was to forgive you. I received a lot of awards I've received the forgiveness award because I do not carry hatred. My grandmother used to say if you hate you my life will chew on a limb and cause all that sour stuff gets in your system. And so better to chew on a nice sweet mint and hatred doesn't get you anywhere so she would daily she would daily you know preach to us from the bible reading the verses about forgiveness and saying that was really important to see all of the people even those who were embattled in power too. At the time really torture us it was it was really important to see them as God's children and to Lupton and hidden and to try and love them to understand that they too were in a bind in that this was a big change that they had been taught traditionally not to. Sapt this certainly altered the course of their high school activity. But it's hard to do you know it was really hard at that age of 15 to do because I wanted my life to be normal and I wanted people to stop what they were doing but some of the people have come
forth to say they're sorry. On the other hand a few years back we were in Arkansas governor then Governor Bill Clinton gave us a huge reunion in the late 80s and we had people calling on the phone saying you know there's a bomb threat or we still hear you. But the difference then was I had two cousins who were police my brother was a capitalist state police and my cousin was in there so things had changed. Well thank you very much. Thanks for the complex you have a day off a lot of the focus I'm sure is. First of all your first attempt to go to school and being turned back by the mob and then eventually the president calling up sending federal troops U.S. U.S. Army troops to make it possible for you to go wherever they are today I pray for them. Once that hundred for their boy and indeed once that happened and then you actually got in and you started going to school him eventually the troops went away and then you hung in though you went for an entire year. What. Well exactly.
Yeah and what you know what went on. Once the the kind of the spotlight was off what sort of things went on What did you have to deal with just day to day just trying to go about your business and go to class. Well once the federal troops left the governor had promised the president that he would install you know the National Guard and that was these gentlemen did their personal best but they were not the hundred first. We had great difficulty acid in the eyes. Beat up daily It was like going to war. I thought it was like could know your status is every morning going to war and once again the thing that stood between me and my demise was prayer and also the soldier who guarded me. When you had what I had. Federal troops. I had it. Close up soldier bodyguard one on one. Then you had your perimeter troops two or three at a distance and then a greater number at a greater
distance. The guy who was my personal bodyguard who I called Danny in the book taught me a lot and one of the things the reason the books call Warriors Don't cry is because he echoed what my grandmother had said show his son with him. I am a warrior on the battlefield for my Lord and I promise him that I will do the best until I die. And this soldier came along and he said Milburgh you're a warrior here. You cannot lay down and cry to me kick you in the gut roll over get up keep moving. And he taught me a lot about you said you don't have time to cry. You just don't. You got to keep moving. You're going to get injured the second time. If you take time to muse over it and that was really helpful. And he said to me at one point somebody should have given you guys military training because you're a war girl stand up against a wall breathe deeply and walk forward. And so he taught me a lot about posture. But nevertheless when those soldiers left it was absolute unmitigated hell to the extent that as adults we went back to that school level for the first time we went back. You know many of us cried as as 40 year
old adult with top bellies and starting gray hair because. There's no getting past what it did to our self-esteem and what it did to our spirit. Let's talk with someone else here we have another caller someone you are bad on this is line 1. Well I didn't in my time not sure whether you covered them. But how did these nine happen to get to know the not me. Chill out. Children were then children were chosen by you were great. Originally as I explained earlier they were like more than a hundred people chosen and book parents backed out because of threatened violence. Other is backed up because it didn't want to deal with it and then the school of the name some. So one of the criteria for the choice was that you had to make good grades that you had to have a clear record of nonviolence because they knew from the beginning that if we ever responded we were not going they were eighteen hundred almost
1000. So this is not an occasion on which you can respond. And so from the beginning we were taught that your position is one of nonviolence and so they pick students. That they thought could make that cut. And did you have nonviolent training. Oh absolutely. Quakers came down from the north. It was in one of the times Hall and several Quaker people came down. Many people intervened out of Canada Quakers came and their sole job there was to teach us nonviolence. OK thank you very much. Well thank you not only for the program but for your own courage didn't I. Well you're welcome you have a good day. Thanks for the go a little bit past the midpoint here and I do want to mention again for people who are listening that our guest Melba Beals will be here in Champaign Urbana campus on Monday March 1st giving a talk the topic integration then and now seven o'clock in the evening at the airline a union on the campus.
And of course anybody who is interested should feel welcome to attend and no matter where you are if you're interested in reading her story she has written two books the first titled warriors don't cry about the kind of experiences here that we've been talking about what happened to her in in Little Rock there in 1057 then she's also authored a second book which is about her time after her life after that. White is a state of mind so you can go and look for those books and questions are welcome 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Why did your parents make the decision or maybe it was your mom or your family. At any rate at the end of that year for you to leave Arkansas and go to live in California. By the end of that first year the governor of Arkansas had closed school and that was very disheartening because the black people. But as time wore and almost as angry at us as the white people
they were angry because in retaliation the white community was taking away their jobs. But the committee was in some ways a hundred percent dependent on them for jobs for resources. If we know anything we don't like a newspaper or misstating beaten her husband until a black newspaper so I think in of that time. Also here's an important reason we had to leave the Klu Klux Klan had bills out on us. 10000 alive. I thousand at. Or vice versa sorry. Let me let me change that. 10000 dead 5000 alive more. You're worth more dead than alive. That's right and in that time. Think about it in 1957 $10000 was a house. I remember my mom going to house for nine thousand dollars right. So that was equivalent to saying what a half million today or more dad. And you know shopping money say to them 50000 are so alive and so are we. I
also had at the time relatives who were passing for white what your body does. And I had a relative who called up. He was at the time a sheriff with a white family and everything but he would come back to Arkansas periodically to visit his mom. And he called my mother and said look they're putting out invitations all over the network chain of the Klan for people to come there and kill these these children need to get her out of there. And through four days of that my mother started sewing. My mother grandmother you know sewing furiously. You know to get me I see that not you know you know here last we went to school from 50 Cent. And a 58 then from Kop Thamer 58 59. I had to wait in Little Rock because the Elysee P had that case in process. So from September 58 to say May
59. I was out of school just sitting and then in the end though in the latter part of that year it was when my relative called and said look you need to get her out of there and I ended up coming to California. And what I think you're inviting white family adopted by white family here that's what the second book is about. The hilarious experience of getting off the plane expecting to be met by members of the NWC. Well in fact they were from Santa Rosa and in California members of the Intel What if the people were all white. Because unfortunately a black neighbors of which were about private gotten lost on the way to the airport. And so when I got off the plane there were all these white people standing there rushing towards me and I was actually horrified because I thought well the clad who had stopped me and Arkansas had now followed me to California. But that will begin to change. The bridge in my life because the parents that I met Dr. MS
distorts McKay whom I who are still my parents today and those four sisters and brothers still mine. My sister some of us today would would in effect walk me over the bridge to adulthood. Yeah because you left had leave. What a walk without actually graduating from high school. That's great because I was a junior. The only graduate of Central High School at that time was Ernie Green. Now later Ron Clark a lawyer and a Justin Thomas would graduate but they would be brought back in like January 30. I play 60 and go back to school then. We have some of the calls here would folks would like to talk with you lets do that in the next in line is in Urbana and that's Line 1. Hello good morning. You know it's really an honor to hear your voice and I'm so happy you're coming to campus I've taught your book and my classes and I made it requires that my students go so we will be there in the front row on Monday but I was going
to. Has your book inspired me to drive down to Little Rock Arkansas last summer I just wanted to see that school myself and I was struck by how much it has become a tourist attraction. I think it's good but at the same time when I walk through the arch there's this big arch in front of the school that has pictures of the history and everything and it seems to be Oh whoever put that up seems to have a real defensive posture about that school I just wondered if you could tell me a little bit about what's happened since you know you know contemporary times. They keep touting the school as a place where everyone can come and be educated but I understand it's done only black school now. Yeah. You know exactly so it's about 70 percent. So deeps of black now. And I'm quite happy with the fact that it's what's called a track school do you know what that means yes. Yes for a buddy who doesn't know what a track mean it means when you come in to school and they censor test you in a certain
lane. Then you stay in that lane through that school and it means that they make up their mind are you going to be a carpenter or an intellectual soon and they from the beginning only give you courses on a lower track let's say so that if you have a learning difference then you're not educated at the highest level. So I mean we're not happy with that and in fact until recently Dr. Terry Roberts who's one of the Little Rock Nine was trying to work with them on a better integration plan because certainly the problem isn't solved. So who has have things changed. Yes in 89 we we went back to the president of the the student body was black and it was more of a balance but of recent It has become more black. We are questioning whether or not the education opportunity is what it was. And so yes and the other thing that's happening is a little rocky and will be for Kerry Rhodes and one of the hangars have now determined that we bring money to the state
who they have set up. And that school is a huge huge tourist attraction. Yeah yeah it is a bit of work as it is now but it also has some problems with crime that kind of thing. And the neighborhood needs a bit of uplift. Yeah I did notice that. Now you know I have to know that when I went to school there this was an all white very wealthy neighborhood that we couldn't drive through at night at all. Could you that was someplace you didn't go after five o'clock but some. And so it's definitely changed radically as the whole country has changed in these last 50 years. But hopefully there is a turn around the state legislature which recently voted to which surprised us put statues of us in that park city here and so there's been a lot of changes in the disposition of the mainstream people in Little Rock and they have certainly undergone their own metamorphosis. I have one quick question there wasn't a man running for president who was from Little Rock Arkansas. And
I'm forgetting his name I'm just in such a hurry right now but did he attend that high school because when he launched his campaign he went to an elementary school in Little Rock and and you know said I'm I'm from this and this town is where I went to school. But he's about your age I was wondering if he was at your high school. I don't know that I don't know. You know I know that there were a lot of claims there are a lot you'd be amazed at the claims are made and that the questions I get daily of people. You know at this point because we've become so famous and because we have this medal and are written about all the time we have all these claims made that people went to school with us or stood by us or whatever and I would say probably they were not correct. Yeah you know I don't know it's kind of fun though you know in a way I just hope they're all blessed by this claim. Yeah well I'm looking forward to your visit. Thank you very much. Thank you Paul for the CO. Let's go to another caller here. Lhota is next line. Poor fellow no doubt. Yes. OK hi No no thank you.
SIMON I think you had I bowed to you in respect for your innocence and for your devotion to your beliefs for opening the door to the opportunity. That you spoke about earlier for a better life. Oh thank you. My question is this. Before you there was the recent off the blocked access to a good education and to the opportunity for this good life the American dream that we all wish to to have. Why is it that the Latinos and the blacks seem to be the only whites you already own. People that don't wish to walk through the door that you open so many years ago. I would like to know your well do you mean don't wish to walk together. No OUR don't wish to walk. I don't wish to walk through that door of opportunity. Take you open
for everybody else after you. I mean in before you. As it was the recent. Too late to explain why a lot of black people and people of color did not have the opportunity for education and a good life. And then after you you made the change you open that door that you made it. Happen but now there is no closed doors but still a lot of people are not passing through it. Well I think I know why you're going back to my allegation and my my my decision to tell you in the beginning is Gore sation that really integration is not the word we're looking for it's accessibility and in truth in this country the lines of demarcation are green. They're drawn by money and so many of the Latinos in this country and I deal in California of course with this issue big time. I am also a professor at University
here. Dominican diversity and we have a great you know populous coming into our university. We have worked over the past I have worked with the group called back over the past five years the diversity action group to act. Latinos come in separately focusing almost too because many are left out and I think that black people and Latino people don't choose to walk through the door simply because they feel are denied access because of resources they're ignorant of what it means to walk through the door. If you don't have recently I watched one of the bigger surfing 2020 the whole story about this awful awful housing project and you know is accused it's the case QE D special called Beyond the color dyed beyond the color line. And in that they go into this incredible housing project rolling black people are. And he shows you that generation after generation those women believe that what we need to do is get pregnant have more babies
so that we get more and more income. Nobody. Post them. Look folks this isn't the answer the answer is to go get some education take your birth control pill accelerate for yourself. So a lot of this has to do with accessibility tyo hundreds of people into a dense housing project where everybody is sick in terms of their understanding of what's possible and you get a mess. But you see it used to be a long time ago that people lived in neighborhoods and in those neighborhoods was a fireman an ambulance driver a teacher a doctor etc.. And in those neighborhoods the children got to see the firemen outdoors lowing his lawn. They got to see the realities of this person and so what we need now is role models. We need two happy people who have made it that are black and Latino go into housing projects go into the poor areas and say hello here I am. I've made it and I do that often. I tell people
that aren't you blessed with this opportunity to make it. Congratulations. When Let me show you how. And so that's the problem. It's ignorance. When I write about it in whites a state of mind how I live in a housing project in order to get my education. And guess what. Every single morning these drummers got up and they played the drum every morning. And my question to you is where I so why would I want to ask them. I said What are you doing with your you got up you got dressed you're playing the drums the Congo drums. What's the issue here. I want you out of school want to go to work. And they said you know even if we go to school or work we are going to get anything. I thought well I'm going to tell you you are going to get something. So part of this is ignorance. Part of this is that the people who have made it don't go back to holding hands of those who have not. Well thank you wonderful and thank you for the call we have about 10 minutes left or rather know maybe more like 15 minutes left in this part of focus. Talking with Melba
Beals she was one of the group of students who came to be known as the Little Rock nine who were involved in the battle to integrate Little Rock Central High School in Rock Arkansas back in 1900. The 7 and again if you're interested in reading her account of her experiences it's published. She published it as a book it's titled warriors don't cry and it is in print so should be out there in the bookstore the library and also a volume that follows after that talks about her experiences then after having left Little Rock and living in California where she went to high school completed her high school and then went on to college and career as a journalist that book is titled White is a state of mind show. Those books are out there if you want to read them. We do have some more people here who have questions. Let's go to the champagne counting is our next. Why number two. Hello. Hi. I'll try to be short not exist. I actually have two. Two comments. I just attended a forum last night and I just found I was shocked to find out other people were to that. The average school's classroom size in the Chicago school system now which is primarily
hyper segregated. People of color is 55 scary. It's absolute. At least stunning. I just it's awful. But that's just sort of follow on to what I was just hearing there about which I think I want to capsulize this more blaming the victim. But but what I called about really was the African American research program here recently screened a film called The intruder from 1062 in a dramatize and the integration of of a school in the south in a small town it's not like Little Rock Little Rock is not a small town but it's well worth seeing if it's done by Roger Corman who did horror films after that and. But I don't know if you've seen that but I recommend it for everyone because it's it's dated it's from 1062 it also came out and has a curious history of release and it was also released under the name shame. And it was also released under the title I hate
your guts. So lovely man. I don't know what your Shatner in it which was kind of. Oh anyway. But it's called the intruder and it really is a moving film I mean there's a lot of anachronisms and odd things in it but it does dramatized a rural southern community and image and move to integration and interloper comes in and tries to stir up and successfully stir up the whites against the project. So thanks for them for me very good thank you. When you have a happy day I think you know we have again time for other button when it's time for other calls you'd like to join the conversation 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 for here in Champaign Urbana toll free 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5 1. When you went to war when you moved to California went to high school there. It was also a school where you were one of very few African-Americans from when I was there. That was scary and my book it when it's a state of mind talks about
how even though I was never threatened it was less wonderful place in the world. I still wasn't totally included but my white sisters and my brother then was quite young if it was going to high school at two sisters going. And they were really sweet and that they were just plain folks and they said they would say hey this is our sister Choi but they called me at the time and you know they they never made a big thing of it. They said this is our new sister Joy they'd introduced me around. And that would be it. And so I would go places with them sometimes and do things but you know I did have a normal dating life. And because I was in this other place and that most important thing you know that set me out wasn't a lack of understanding of that culture. These people were free. They lived a certain life that I had not understood. And but what was great for me was that was was a freedom that I got in my spirit. And those parents I mean they could I have gotten better parents my dad was would go on to found to be one of the founders of Sonoma State University excuse me. My mom is an activist she's a Quaker both these
guys are Quakers. My mom is an activist she's still alive today. She's 86 she does Castonguay yoga three times a week. She backpacks into the Marble Mountain. She just founded something called the Russian River celebration. She is so cool. I mean if we could all keep up with mom recently she would have a backpack with my brother who weighs like 260 and wanted to carry his backpack down for him. She weighs under hundred pounds and so look at the two spirits look at the gifts that God gave me which was I was I went from this environment where I was totally castigated to those environment where I was totally loved and my mom and dad never ever made a difference. Dr. and Mrs. McCabe always embraced me. Gabby would always say understand you are never less than my daughter. And he's really the only loving father I ever knew and he had a lot to do with helping me. Understand what freedom is really like. Now I would tell you that there are good martial coming to the south with the first person who brought me a real enactment of freedom my parents talked about it
but Thurgood Marshall Justice Marshall was free and he was a great thinker in my life. When I turned 50 I got that identical twin boys and to let you know how dear he is in my life I named my son Matthew. Thurgood and my other boy is Evan Marshall. And so. Surely you know this. This man Thurgood Marshall was an incredible role model. But then along with come my parents white parents to finish up the job. And so I'm very blessed. I do what you do when asked about the thing you just mentioned just because well you know that's a that's a time of life when a lot of people would say I am done with dealing with children at least that of children that age what. What moved you at 50 something to decide that you wanted to adopt these two little boys. Well you know the thing about me kids. I had been for 18 years on the board of something called Ask aid to adoption of special children. That is an adoption
agency created by the both Dorothy and Bob to both and you've seen the movie about the bolts and all the work that they have done. And I was for 18 years I was with them initially when they started in for 18 years I was on that board. Seeing to it that ten thousand and seventy five kids got a doctorate in the ten years. Now I want a lot of boards I turned 50. I was having a good old time. I just you know published my book and I was hanging out. Sending money shopping and all that but my mother always said to me and my grandmother they would say to me every single year on your birthday you must look at what you're giving back for what you've got. That was one thing the other thing was rather than being on a whole bunch of boards. Why not. You know why not give directly I decided. And so I resigned from my board and the other thing was I had promised God that if I publish my book if it worked out if it indeed was
a ballot and valuable piece of work that I would I would adopt I would do what I've been asking other people to do I'd walk my talk. And so I saw these little boys on television and that was it. I mean I just saw one of them and he resembled my birth daughter and I called him about him and I said to him you know you're 50 you can do it blah blah blah and I said you haven't had two years of law and you can't tell me that you are bound by law to some of the applications. And I made application and they said well you won't get it 100 people have to have you know requested it and. They're younger than you. And I said yeah. But you can't tell me that to me they sent me the application and I did it. And about seven months later they had eliminated those hundred down to 25 and I was in the 25. Partially because my family's integrated you know and because I was a stay at home mom I could I could write to stay at home at that point. Now I've gone back to teaching but you know for a number of reasons. I was blessed with these young men and now they were size 11 shoe
and they are they're being told they're skinny kids. They're five foot eight. And how old are they know they're now 13 and who are wonderful. They're so wonderful and I got them they were just turning you know what they wore. Yeah. So you know it's been a big job. Another spiritual bit of growth. God always grabs me up and says Listen let's go one more mile let's get this other lesson going on. And so really raising two boys I tell you it has been an extreme growth lesson one which has certainly kept me young kept me moving. You know I got to get up get to soccer field make those lunches are going to do it all. And it's a fun thing for me now it's just like this huge wonderful thing in my life and you have a you have a girl. Daughter How old is she. I'm a grown up daughter. She will let me save at least 30 something. And he's working on her doctorate degree in psychology. And she's actually for the moment commit to
stay with me for a bit because of the task of raising the boys has been so daunting. It's just a pizza he had to think to to to give love to support to get these two spirits launched and actually I'm reading two books right now one is called Why go where you're not welcome. That's a pre-date of warriors which I talk about you know what leads you to want to do that and the other one is called How to launch a spirit. And that's about you know my decision to adopt and what it what you have to be willing to contribute in order to get these little spirits on the road. So do they think of their sister as a big sister or as another mom. She really is legally. You know he signed on the dotted line with me. She's a legal guardian to them but she's big sister Eunice was a ponytail and jeans and they usually ask you know sister let's and she will go in the car I will not. Sisters younger. So she's able to do things with them
that I do not do. She's the one who goes to the you know the park with them you know to take them riding on the Ferris wheel and all the big things like that. And she's the one who teaches them how to dance and and so they think of her as a big sister. And you know they'll get really angry at her they don't really quite see her in that. For both say you know things like YOU LET SR stay up past 11 there you accepted. You know sister gets to go on the weekend because their bedtime to 30 during the week while sister gets to stay on her legs. You know you can see her well yeah she's 30 years old. Exactly exactly. It's I don't totally get that she's a grown up and you know they'll say things like sisters driving you know why can't we. No they don't totally get it. But big sister has been a godsend and certainly brought a part of their life that they would not have had because I'm a little old lady let's get real here. Well I don't know about that. You're going to you're going to have to wait probably a few decades before you can qualify to be a lot cheerful and that's what's important. OK well I want to thank you
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With Melba Beals (one of nine African-American students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, writer, public speaker)
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Guest: Beals, Melba
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Chicago: “Focus; WARRIORS DONT CRY and WHITE IS A STATE OF MIND,” 2004-02-27, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 10, 2019,
MLA: “Focus; WARRIORS DONT CRY and WHITE IS A STATE OF MIND.” 2004-02-27. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 10, 2019. <>.
APA: Focus; WARRIORS DONT CRY and WHITE IS A STATE OF MIND. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from