Melba Beals to Be Honored for Her Role in Civil Rights Movement

Civil rights figure Melba Pattillo Beals, chair of Dominican’s Department of Communications, will be honored in Little Rock, Ark., this month during ceremonies to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School by the Little Rock Nine.


Beals was among the nine African-American teenagers who 50 years ago advanced the civil rights movement with the integration of Little Rock Central High School.

Beals will join her fellow members of the Little Rock Nine in Little Rock for anniversary events surrounding their first full day at the school, September 25, 1957. Events include a dedication ceremony for the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center on September 24, followed by an evening gala hosted by former President Bill Clinton at the Statehouse Convention Center. On September 25, crowds will gather on the front lawn at Little Rock Central High for a commemoration ceremony.

Here at Dominican, Beals will deliver a lecture titled Seeing Equal – Being Equal. Moving Forward with Energy and Hope, on Wednesday, November 28, at 7 p.m. in Angelico Concert Hall. The lecture, which will be held in conjunction with Dominican’s Leadership Lecture Series, is free and open to the public.

In the landmark 1954 decision of Brown v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court declared racial segregation in the public schools of the United States unconstitutional, culminating in the historic events at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957. 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.

Beals is an accomplished journalist, educator, and author. She has worked as a reporter for PBS and NBC and as a writer for People magazine. In 1994, she published Warriors Don’t Cry, her memoir of the battle to integrate Central High School. She also is the author of White is a State of Mind.