Melba Patillo Beals

Amid the howling mobs and fiery storm of the 1957 battle to integrate Little Rock Central High School, Melba Pattillo Beals and eight other young warriors risked their lives to change history. The U.S. Congress voted Beals and her “Little Rock Nine” companions the Congressional Gold Medal for their contribution to the Civil Rights movement. Only 318 Americans have received this award.

Warriors Don’t Cry is Beals’ chronicle of the school integration battle. Warriors won the 1994 American Library Association Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, was named a Notable Book of the year by the American Booksellers Association, and received the coveted Robert F. Kennedy Award for books that reflect RFK’s “concern for the poor and the powerless, his struggle for honest and evenhanded justice, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity.”

Another focus of Ms. Beals’ life has been her work with Aid to the Adoption of Special Children (AASK). During her twenty-year tenure on its board of directors, more than 10,000 special needs children have been placed with adoptive families.

Now a Professor heading Dominican University’s Communications program, Ms. Beals is a sought-after motivational speaker. She has appeared on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” on “Oprah” and C-Span’s “Booknotes.” She has been featured in USA Today, People and Newsweek.

Ms. Beals surprised all her friends and colleagues when at age fifty she adopted three-year-old twin boys. She gives praise and thanks to her grown daughter, Kellie, for helping her to raise Matthew and Evan.