For this unit, our main autobiography is Warriors Don’t Cry, a memoir written by Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine. In her account of the experience of attempting to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in 1957, Beals reveals her perspective on a series of events that became national and international news.
This assignment asks you to compare her story and perspective with those of officials who were active during the controversy, including Orval Faubus (then the governor of Arkansas), and President Dwight Eisenhower. The goal is to do a detailed analysis of the three sources (Warriors Don’t Cry, the Mike Wallace interview with Faubus, and the Eisenhower address) in order to think about what we can learn from different types of sources as we work to understand a historical event.
To organize your thinking, you should frame your discussion around this central question: In what ways were the depictions of events similar and/or different among the three sources? How or why? You do not need a formal thesis statement for this paper, but your essay should indicate your answer to that question. As you write, you should also consider the questions from the worksheet about each document:
- What are three main points the creator of the source makes about the situation?
- Who is the intended audience for this source?
- What is the creator of the source trying to convince their audience to think about the situation?
- How does the creator support his/her/their main points? That is, what evidence do they provide? What authorities do they refer to?
- What are some strengths of this source? What questions does it answer well?
- What are some weaknesses of this source? What questions does it not answer well?
Papers will be evaluated based on the depth of their engagement with each source and the quality of the comparison among the sources. Be sure, that is, to discuss specific examples from each source, quote them when appropriate, and discuss them in comparison to one another. (You should not simply write a paragraph about each.)
- The paper should be 500-1,000 words (excluding footnotes).
- You must use as evidence Warriors Don’t Cry and the two video sources.
- You should use any other readings from the syllabus and references to lecture notes as they relate to your argument.
- You must cite all evidence, including both readings and lecture notes, in Chicago format.
- You may not use any outside sources.
How to Cite These Sources
Melba Pattillo Beals, Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock Central High School, reprint ed. (New York: Washington Square Press, 1995), 37.
Orval Faubus, The Mike Wallace Interview, ABC, Sept. 15, 1957, from C-SPAN, https://www.c-span.org/video/?288553-1/mike-wallace-interview-governor-orval-faubus.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Speech on Little Rock, Sept. 24, 1957, from C-SPAN, https://www.c-span.org/video/?15186-1/eisenhower-speech-little-rock.
Beals, Warriors Don’t Cry, 42.
Faubus, Mike Wallace Interview.
Eisenhower, Speech on Little Rock.