The Little Rock Nine Quotes in Warriors Don’t Cry
Later in The New York Times, Sammy Dean Parker and Kaye Bacon said that as a result of the meeting they now had a new attitude. One headline in the Gazette read: “Two Pupils Tell of Change in Attitude on Segregation.” Sammy Dean Parker was quoted as saying, “The Negro Students don’t want to go to school with us any more than we want to go with them. If you really talk with them, you see their side of it. I think the NAACP is paying them to go.” When I read her statement, I realized Sammy hadn’t understood at all our reason for attending Central High. I wondered where on earth she thought there was enough money to pay for such brutal days as I was enduring [….] What price could anyone set for the joy and laughter and peace of mind I had given up?
When Mrs. Bates asked, “Do you kids want white meat or dark meat?” I spoke without thinking: “This is an integrated turkey.” The annoyed expression on her face matched the one on Mother’s, letting me know that maybe I should have prepared a speech. The reporters began snickering as they posed a series of questions on turkeys and integration, calling on me by name to answer. My palms began sweating, and my mouth turned dry. I hadn’t meant to put my foot in my mouth. I didn’t want the others to think I was trying to steal the spotlight, but once I had spoken out of turn, “integrated turkey” became the theme. “You’ll live to regret that statement, Melba,” Mother said as we were driving home. I knew she was agonizing over the consequences of my frivolity. She was right. I would suffer.
And yet all this pomp and circumstance and the presence of my eight colleagues does not numb the pain I feel at entering Central High School, a building I remember only as a hellish torture chamber. I pause to look up at this massive school—two blocks square and seven stories high, a place that was meant to nourish us and prepare us for adulthood. But because we dared to challenge the Southern tradition of segregation, this school became, instead, a furnace that consumed our youth and forged us into reluctant warriors.