Melba Pattillo Beals (b. 1941) is one of the Little Rock Nine, the group of African-American students who were the first to integrate in Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. While she initially studied at an all-black college, she quickly realized that she was not getting the same high-quality education of her white peers, and decided to transfer to Central High, risking her welfare and even life to start a crucial shift in racial attitudes in the USA.
Her experiences dealing with the mockery and disdain of her white classmates were documented in the book Warriors Don’t Cry. One of these students went as far as throwing acid into her eyes, trying to blind her. She later attended San Francisco State University and Columbia University, obtaining a master’s degree in journalism.