MELBA PATTILLO BEALS is one of the Little Rock Nine. At 15, Melba Pattillo and 8 other black students faced the wrath of segragionists and the Govenor of Arkansas to become the first black students to enter Central High School. The civil rights battle which erupted rocked this country, put the world on edge and set Melba’s life forever on a different course. She faced angry, rampant killer mobs and renegade police who forced then-President Eisenhower to send combat-ready soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division to protect the lives of the nine students. In 1998, for their courage and self-sacrifice, the Congress of the United States awarded the Little Rock Nine America’s top civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. Other recipients of this rarely given honor – just over 300 in the history of the nation – include President George Washington, the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Bob Hope, Walt Disney, President Harry S. Truman, General Colin Powell and Mother Teresa.
Melba worked as a news reporter for San Francisco’s public television station, KQED, and for the NBC affiliate, KRON-TV. She has written numerous articles for periodicals including People, Essence, and the San Francisco Examiner. Her bestselling books that chronicle her experiences, Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock Central High School and its sequelWhite is a State of Mind: Freedom is Yours to Choose have provided inspirational reading for millions. Her bestselling primer on public relations Expose Yourself: Using The Power of Public Relations to Promote Your Business and Yourself is an acknowledged industry reference. Photo: Brandon Davis.