Long before she was one of the Little Rock Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals was a warrior. Frustrated by the laws that kept African-Americans separate but very much unequal to whites, she had questions. Why couldn't she drink from a "whites only" fountain? Why couldn't she feel safe beyond home--or even within the walls of church? Adults all told her: Hold your tongue. Be patient. Know your place. But Beals had the heart of a fighter--and the knowledge that her true place was a free one.
By Melba Pattillo Beals