Warriors Don't Cry Discussion Questions

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

''Warriors Don't Cry'' tells the story of school integration from the eyes of its author, Melba Beals, a member of the Little Rock Nine. These questions are designed with high school students in mind and will require critical thinking.

Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Beals

If you are unfamiliar with the events that took place in the southern states during the American Civil Rights Movement, you might think that Warriors Don't Cry is a fictional account. However, the books author, Melba Beals was a member of the Little Rock Nine, the first students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas in 1957. Beals wrote this memoir in 1994. These questions are geared towards middle and high school students and can fit into the English or U.S. history curriculum. They are broken into three sections: context questions, plot questions and questions based on quotes. These questions will help your students think critically about the events Beals recounts in her memoir.

Context Questions

  • In 1958, after a year of having integrated schools, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus decides that rather than continuing integration, he would rather close down public schools in the entire state. Did you know this before reading the book? Can you believe that this actually happened? Discuss the short-term and long-term effects of this decision.
  • In 1960, the NAACP decided that it was too dangerous for the students to attend school in Arkansas, so they moved members of the Little Rock Nine to schools across the country. Melba moves to California, lives with a family there and graduates high school. Put yourself into her shoes. She was not that much older than you when this happened. What does this tell us about the conditions in Arkansas and how her family valued education? What would you feel if this happened to you?
  • Imagine soldiers escorting you to class to keep you safe at school. How would this change your ability to concentrate, make friends and be a ''normal'' student? Would you be willing to attend a school that required a soldier guarding you?

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