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Warriors Don't Cry:
Discussion Topics

Following are questions, issues, and discussion topics related to topics and issues found in Warriors Don't Cry. Some of the items link to resources that provide stimulation for discussion as well as background information. Additional background information can be found in the "Digging Deeper" and "Resource Links" sections of this Web site.

  1. Integration
  2. Segregation
  3. Discrimination
  4. Terrorism
  5. Tolerance
  6. Equality
  7. Developing survival skills for dangerous situations “ We may have to let the mob have one of these kids so’s we can distract them long enough to get the others out. ”
  8. Children repeating the mistakes of their parents, i.e. like her mother, Melba married a man whose interests and goals weren’t in line with her own.
  9. Children (Link) feeling guilty because of their parents' actions and beliefs and children trying to make up for their parents’ actions, i.e., how Link took care of Nana and Melba.
  10. Inter-racial marriage, i.e., Melba’s failed marriage and her bi-racial daughter.
  11. Economic conditions of blacks vs. whites–then and now.
  12. Expectations of blacks vs. whites of being able to earn a good living in the late 1950s.
  13. How political leaders can set the tone and influence a volatile situation, i.e., the actions of the governor and of the U.S. president in Little Rock.
  14. Civil Rights movement
  15. Meaning of freedom to blacks vs. whites–North vs. South
  16. Function of the extended family in the U.S. culture -- is it different for different races and sub-cultures?
  17. Function of community in the U.S. culture -- is it different for different races and sub-cultures?
  18. Role of religion (specifically Christianity) in the desegregation movement
  19. Expectations of blacks vs. whites for employment opportunities in the late 1950s
  20. The role family plays in how we see ourselves, i.e., Melba’s mother went to graduate school and helped with integration in higher education and she supported Melba’s desire to attend a “white” school.
  21. Expectations of blacks vs. whites to receive fair treatment from police and law enforcement authorities -- has there been much change in the past 50 years?
  22. Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (5/17/54)
  23. NAACP “ I caught a glimpse of nonwhite faces–my people serving food behind the counter. ”
  24. Rosa Parks (interview)

    Rosa Parks (Teacher Scholastic entry.)
  25. Culture of the north vs. the south and how segregation relates to the culture
  26. The role of the military in integration -- what was it? What should it have been? Does the military play a role in civil rights issues and diversity issues today?
  27. The role of the church in integration -- does it help or hinder?
  28. How family attitudes help children cope with stressful events
  29. What were some of the support systems that helped Melba and her family cope with stress?
  30. How political “spin” contributed to integration, i.e. the threat of violence was used to try to stop integration -- violence went unreported to prevent integration from being stopped -- did newspapers censored reports to make the situation seem better than it was?
  31. The role of perspective -- could the way a young girl remembers things be more reflective of her own immaturity and limited life experiences than of the reality of the situation?
  32. The sacrifices that were made by individuals to move civil rights forward
  33. Were black children used and manipulated by the Civil Rights leaders? Were white children used and manipulated by people and groups opposing integration?
  34. What is expected from public education? How do apathy of teachers, violence in the schools, lack of control and discipline issues, and peer pressure affect education?
  35. Mob mentality–harassment/ terrorism -- what are some effective ways of responding to harassment and mobs?
  36. State’s rights vs. federal government control
  37. Role of the media in the Civil Rights movemen, i.e., "Life" magazine, radio, TV
  38. How did each side of the issue of desegregation use the media? Which side was most effective?
  39. Mental depression -- feeling of lacking control over one's fate
  40. Issue of blacks participating in school events and extra curricular activities -- should certain groups of students be excluded from certain activities? For example, should English as a Second Language students be included in classes with students who are native speakers?
  41. Issue of blacks not being allowed in certain buildings, like movie theaters; are there similar situations still existing today?
  42. How people cope with discrimination, i.e., Minijean wanting to be in the talent show so everyone would see she could sing vs. Melba believing that God knowing her values was enough, it didn’t matter if other people knew or not.
  43. Divorce
  44. Health issues of blacks vs. whites –- do inequities still exist in the availability of health care? Are there inequities for other social-economic groups as well?
  45. Perspective of different participants –- could this account be inaccurate just because of the age, race, and perspective of the person who wrote it? Can you better evaluate a situation by looking at it from different perspectives?
  46. Race as a biological issue and as a cultural issue.
  47. Holiday celebrations in different cultures and religions.
  48. Role of the father in different cultures and religions.
  49. Dating in the 1950s vs. dating now -- dating in different parts of the U.S. and/or in different countries.
  50. What situations and conditions aid bonding in diverse groups? For example, the 9 students at Little Rock hardly know each other at the beginning of the school year, but were tightly bonded by the end of the school year. What other situations also elicit this behavior?
  51. Coping with favoritism and/or bullies
  52. What is the role of the family in coping with stress originating from outside of the family
  53. Suicide –- ways of dealing with it -– role of the family –- does “tough love” work? i.e., how Melba's grandmother handled Melba's desire to be dead.
  54. What were the main contributing (emotional) factors to Melba being able to “stay the course?”
  55. “Losing” your identity due to having to adapt to a new (hostile) environment and how different experiences change people
  56. Compare and contrast the environment Melba describes in the school with a soldier in battle.
  57. Using common sense to avoid dangerous situations –- Melba had the most problems when she wasn’t paying attention to where she was or where she was going.
  58. Do leaders and people in authority, like teachers, have a responsibility to protect abused students/citizens?
  59. Gandhi
  60. Trust–i.e. Link and Melba; school administrators and black students
  61. Spies and informers - –the psychology behind people who do this.
  62. Culture, religion and family traditions
  63. High school culture –- traditional events like proms, class elections, and graduation –- resistance to changing these –- how do you go about changing tradition?
  64. What was the architectural style of the school in Little Rock? Of the town?
  65. How did integration influence sports?
  66. What were the 5 most important events that contributed to the successful integration of public schools?
  67. What are some other Civil Rights issues and how have the events in Little Rock contributed to resolving these issues?
  68. What are some of the accomplishments of black professionals that probably wouldn’t have happened if segregation in higher education had continued?
  69. What is justice?
  70. Why did Melba choose to attend the Little Rock high school? Why did she choose to stay? Do you think everyone should be allowed to choose the school they attend?
  71. Do you think Melba identified more with blacks or whites?
  72. Would it have been easier or harder for a single black student to integrate the Little Rock High School? Why?
  73. How can students make a positive difference in school, their communities, and the nation?
  74. Why did Nana live in a “slum?” How do slums develop? What can be done about them?
  75. What role does attitude play in survival? Is attitude an important factor in how you live your life?
  76. What is the psychology behind manipulating people by threatening to harm their loved ones? By threatening to take away their job or financial support?
  77. What role did Harry Ashmore and the Arkansas Gazette play in desegregation? Why were they awarded Pulitzer Prizes?
  78. Why was the punishment so harsh (hanging) for a black man who looked at a white woman?
  79. Do you think allowing more time to plan for integration would have made a difference in the experiences of the first blacks to enter white schools? In the outcome of desegregation?
  80. Do you think it was important for the Civil Rights movement and integration that a black student graduated from the white high school that first year?
  81. What is the Robert S. Abbot Award? What role did the Chicago “Defender” newspaper play in integration?
  82. Why was the reception of the Little Rock 9 so different in the North than in the South?
  83. Do you think closing public schools was a good solution to avoid integration? What were the long-term and short-term the outcomes of this strategy? Did it work?
  84. Equality
  85. Do you agree with Melba (pg 308) that the integration would have gone smoothly if the governor hadn’t called out the troops?
  86. Do you agree with Melba (pg 312) that living with a white family and marrying a white man were “distinct advantages” in helping her to understand integration and what integration would mean for blacks?
  87. Is segregation in public schools still a problem today?
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