Dear Mrs. Melba Pattillo Beals,
Trying to think of all the things you did for so many people, including myself, makes me more than grateful. You helped make so many opportunities available to people like myself. I can say that I took school and all the education I am learning in school for granted. I always avoided working up to my potential, or even coming close to giving one hundred percent. I mainly went to school to socialize and see my friends. But when assigned to do a book report, I went to the library to find a book on black history. Luckily, the librarian picked Warriors Don't Cry for me. After reading your book, I began to realize how lucky I am, being a teenage African-American female. Now 50 years ago I wouldn't have close to the education I am receiving now. I checked out the book not knowing what kind of emotional impact and positive mind-set it would have on my life.
Right when I turned to the first few pages, immediately the pictures caught my eyes, and some even left me in awe. I couldn't believe my eyes; I read on, every event left me in shock. Page after page, I could hardly put the book down, and when I did I couldn't stop telling my friends and family about what I was reading in the book. I still shake my head when I think about all that took place in the story because to me it seems so real and so unreal at the same time. Somehow through the whole book, I knew you were going to make it into Central High. But I didn't know how hard you were going to have to struggle to get there. When Grandmother India stated that "warriors don't cry," I tried my best to keep down all the anger and sorrow through a lot of situation. At points in the story, the tears began to well up in my eyes. When I kept reading, I began to find it difficult to hold my tears back. The great deal of valor you had throughout all your trials helped me to be thankful for my school, family, friends and society. Then I began to appreciate every little thing that I have.
Warriors Don't Cry caused me to be strong and steadfast in everything I do, never quit and most of all, be thankful for all that I have. When I was finishing up your book, I felt like I was finishing up a TV show I just wanted to keep on watching. Some days after reading your book, I would sit back and wonder what I would do if I went through all what you went through, or if I would even go through with it? Then I opened my eyes, and I looked around and saw the nice house that I'm living in, the quiet well-kept neighborhood I have, and the wonderful school I attend. When I think if it was worth it, I see all the African-American young women and men in high positions in the government and even in my community. An African-American woman just won a school board set, beating her opponent, a Caucasian male, by fifteen hundred votes absolutely amazing. I can honestly say that you helped her do that. Back when you were younger that would have been absolutely impossible.
I once again want to say how grateful I am for everything that you did. The grace of God surely was watching over you throughout all that you went through. You changed history for the better. Now I can go to college anywhere I want, and sit at any desk I want. I can be a teacher, lawyer, a doctor, anything I want, because of you. You even changed the future. Thanks to you, now my grandchildren and their grandchildren can go to any school they want as well. Your faith, determination, courage, and strength helped African-American people in a very big way. I would also like to thank you Grandmother India for helping you to help us, I know she played a big role in your life, and I appreciate her very much as well. Stay strong in the Lord, and God Bless.
Ben Eielson High School, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
Teacher: Eileen Julian