“The task that remains is to cope with our interdependence – to see ourselves reflected in every other human being and to respect and honor our differences.” Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals
The YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley is proud to announce Congressional Gold Medal of Honor recipient, Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals as the keynote speaker for the 12th Annual Women for Racial Justice Breakfast on October 20, 2014. Dr. Beals holds more than 100 awards for courage in recognition of her work in furthering civil rights.
In 1957, 15 year old Melba Pattillo was one of nine African-American students who risked their lives to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Confronted by a hostile crowd and escorted by the Screaming Eagles of the US Army 101st Airborne Division, they shouldered the burden of integrating a then-segregated public school system. Although the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education struck down racial segregation in public schools, it was the courageous actions of these nine young champions of school integration that tested the strength of that decision. Their actions not only mobilized a nation to insure that access to a quality education was granted to all Americans, but they helped to define the civil rights movement. They became known as the Little Rock Nine. Dr. Beals' award winning book, “Warriors Don’t Cry” chronicles the Little Rock incident.
Dr. Beals began her career as a journalist, becoming a NBC television news reporter. She says her career choice took that direction because of her experience during the Little Rock desegregation struggle. "Little Rock taught me that shining a light upon misdeeds can often result in justice achieved. It’s hard to hang somebody by the neck when news cameras are rolling."
On January 25, 2014, Dr. Beals retired as Executive Director of the Student Success program at Dominican University of San Rafael, CA. She is also founder and Chair Emeritus of the University's Communication Department. In 2012, she founded a program called TORCH (Together on the Road to New Chapters), which supports students entering college with a mentoring program throughout their four year experience.
“The effort to separate ourselves whether by race, creed, color, religion, or status is as costly to the separator as to those who would be separated.” Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals
Women for Racial Justice Breakfast