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Melba Patillo Bills Quotes

21 of the best book quotes from Melba Patillo Bills
  1. #1
    “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.”
  2. #2
    “With the passage of time, I became increasingly aware of how all of the adults around me were living with constant fear and apprehension . . . I was feeling more and more vulnerable as I watched them continually struggle to solve the mystery of what white folks expected of them. They behaved as though it were an awful sin to overlook even one of those unspoken rules and step out of ‘their place,’ to cross some invisible line. And yet lots of discussions in my household were about how to cross that line, when to cross that line, and who could cross that line without getting hurt.”
  3. #3
    “My mother was one of the first few blacks to integrate the University of Arkansas, graduating in 1954. Three years later, when Grandma discovered I would be one of the first blacks to attend Central High School, she said the nightmare that had surrounded my birth was proof positive that destiny had assigned me a special task.”
  4. #4
    “Black folks aren’t born expecting segregation, prepared from day one to follow its confining rules. Nobody presents you with a handbook when you’re teething and says, ‘Here’s how you must behave as a second-class citizen.’ Instead, the humiliating expectations and traditions of segregation creep over you, slowly stealing a teaspoonful of your self-esteem each day.”
  5. #5
    “For me, Cincinnati was the promised land. After a few days there, I lost that Little Rock feeling of being choked and kept in ‘my place’ by white people. I felt free, as though I could soar above the clouds.”
  6. #6
    “I ran to my room and fell onto the bed, burying my face in the pillow to hide the sobs that wrenched my insides. All my disappointment over not getting into Central High and the mob chase as well as the big sudden changes in my life over the past few weeks came crashing in on me.”
  7. #7
    “You’ll make this your last cry. You’re a warrior on the battlefield for your Lord. God’s warriors don’t cry, ‘cause they trust that he’s always by their side.”
  1. #8
    “I think only the warrior exists in me now. Melba went away to hide. She was too frightened to stay here.”
  2. #9
    “A girl smiled at me today, another gave me directions, still another boy whispered the page I should turn to in our textbook. This is going to work. It will take a lot more patience and more strength from me, but it’s going to work.”
  3. #10
    “My mother was one of the first few blacks to integrate the University of Arkansas, graduating in 1954. Three years later, when Grandma discovered I would be one of the first blacks to attend Central High School, she said the nightmare that had surrounded my birth was proof positive that destiny had assigned me a special task.”
  4. #11
    “It’s Thursday, September 26, 1957. Now I have a bodyguard. I know very well that the President didn’t send those soldiers just to protect me but to show support for an idea—the idea that a governor can’t ignore federal laws. Still, I feel specially cared about because the guard is there.”
  5. #12
    ″. . . I wanted to be alone so I could search for the part of my life that existed before integration, the Melba I was struggling to hold on to.”
  6. #13
    “It felt as though we always had a white foot pressed against the back of our necks.”
  7. #14
    “I knew for certain something would have to change if I were going to stay in that school. Either the students would have to change the way they behaved, or I would have to devise a better plan to protect myself. My body was wearing out real fast.”

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  1. #15
    “I found myself living among an enclave of students where I was the only person of color. I was doing it again integrating a previously all-white residence house, even though I had other options.”
  2. #16
    “After three full days inside Central, I know that integration is a much bigger word than I thought.”
  3. #17
    “It felt as though we always had a white foot pressed against the back of our necks.”
  4. #18
    “I was both frightened and excited when the white neighbors who lived across the street invited me for dinner. It was the first time white people had ever wanted to eat with me or talk to me about ordinary things. Over the dinner table, I found out they were people just like me. They used the same blue linen dinner napkins that Grandma India favored. They treated me like an equal, like I belonged with them.”
  5. #19
    “You’ve gotta learn to defend yourself. You kids should have been given some training in self-defense . . . It’s never too late. It takes a warrior to fight a battle and survive. This here is a battle if I’ve ever seen one.”
  6. #20
    “Please, God let me learn how to stop being a warrior. Sometimes I just need to be a girl.”
  7. #21
    “My grandmother India always said God had pointed a finger at our family, asking for just a bit more discipline, more praying, and more hard work because he had blessed us with good health and good brains.”
Book Topics › segregation
Children's Books About Segregation

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