I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith under Fire

I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith under Fire


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In 1957, Melba Beals was one of the nine African American students chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. But her story of overcoming didn't start—or end—there. While her white schoolmates were planning their senior prom, Melba was facing the business end of a double-barreled shotgun, being threatened with lynching by rope-carrying tormentors, and learning how to outrun white supremacists who were ready to kill her rather than sit beside her in a classroom. Only her faith in God sustained her during her darkest days and helped her become a civil rights warrior, an NBC television news reporter, a magazine writer, a professor, a wife, and a mother.

In I Will Not Fear, Beals takes readers on an unforgettable journey through terror, oppression, and persecution, highlighting the kind of faith needed to survive in a world full of heartbreak and anger. She shows how the deep faith we develop during our most difficult moments is the kind of faith that can change our families, our communities, and even the world. Encouraging and inspiring, Beals's story offers readers hope that faith is the solution to the pervasive hopelessness of our current culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780800735036
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/20/2018
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 173,878
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Melba Pattillo Beals is a recipient of this country's highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, for her role, as a 15-year-old, in the integration of Central High school in Little Rock, Arkansas. A retired university professor with a doctorate in International Multicultural Education, she is a former KQED television broadcaster, NBC television news reporter, ABC radio talk show host, and writer for various magazines, including Family Circle and People. Beals's Warriors Don't Cry has been in print for more than 20 years, has sold more than 1 million copies, and was the winner of the American Library Association Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and the American Booksellers' Association Award. She lives in San Francisco and is the mother of three adult children.

Table of Contents

Foreword 9

Acknowledgments 13

Introduction 15

1 An Angel with a Broom 19

2 Walking through the Valley 27

3 Angels in Combat Boots 39

4 Through Trials and Tribulations 49

5 Finding My Inner Warrior 59

6 Keeping My Faith in My Darkest Hour 65

7 God Is Everywhere, Especially in California 79

8 I Didn't Expect It to Happen This Way 89

9 Single Parenthood 105

10 Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams 113

11 God Grants Dreams Bigger Than You Imagine 117

12 Turning the Other Cheek 125

13 God Is My Employer 133

14 Serving Others and Serving God 143

15 God Meets Our Needs in Unexpected Ways 147

16 Age Is Just a Number 155

17 God Is as Close to You as Your Skin 161

18 Our Nightmare Dream House 167

19 Terror Times Two 181

20 Where There Is Faith, There Is Hope, Forgiveness, an Gratitude 191

Epilogue 197

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I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith under Fire 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
SouthernGalLovestoRead More than 1 year ago
In her I Will Not Fear, Melba Pattillo Beals shares some details of the frightening, dangerous time she endured as a 15-year-old during the integration of an all-white high school. But she goes far beyond those days to share how the lessons of faith she learned during that critical time -- as well as before and after those events -- have served her well throughout her whole life. Being from Arkansas, I have heard for years about the "Little Rock Nine" and their efforts to integrate Central High School in Little Rock. I attended junior high and high school almost twenty years later in another Arkansas town where integration was still very much a difficult and frightening issue. Those connections were much of what drew me to read this story. The details from those first days of attending Central High School, the threats on the lives of those students and their families, and even the offensive treatment by members of their own community brought real life to an event from the history books. As the story progresses, the author takes readers far beyond those events into the places where her life went after she left Little Rock and faced many other challenges. One of the constants, no matter where she went and what she faced, was her faith in God, influenced tremendously by her grandmother's teachings from early on. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the history involved or anyone looking for encouragement to remain strong in the face of life's big obstacles. Thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.
ASimplyEnchantedLife More than 1 year ago
This book was difficult for me to read and I don't mean it was boring or poorly written. My heart breaks when I read this type of book. Cruelty over something like skin color is something that I will never understand. We wonder why there is still racial division? Well, the hurt that the African-American people endured doesn't disappear overnight and racial prejudices still exist to this day. Without getting into civil rights issues, I instead want to focus on this book as a memoir. Melba Beals is a strong woman who endured horrors that no one should ever have to face. From the moment she was born she had to fight to survive and it's only by the grace of God that she did. I loved how she shared how her Grandmother's Godly wisdom planted the seed of faith in her heart. And I watched that faith bloom as she asked God to protect her from those who wished her harm. Though I appreciated the story, I gave this book 4 stars solely because I was left with unanswered questions. In the book it says she divorced but that he was a good daddy. Yet, he seems absent from the child's life after the divorce? This left me questioning and wondering. Perhaps that's no business of ours but I was genuinely confused as to why he offered her no aid, especially when she and her child were living in dangerous situations. Overall, this book is very informative, yet heartrending. I just wish that I had gotten to know the author a little more. I had some unanswered questions. This book was provided to me by Revell Reads. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. All opinions are my own.
Blooming-with-Books More than 1 year ago
A moving story of faith in the face of hate and prejudice... I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire by Melba Pattillo Beals Sometimes it is hard to realize just how short a time ago we had such a segregated country. When one doesn't live through an event it feels farther away than it truly is. But the hatred and tyranny that Melba had to face just to have a chance at equality is truly unimaginable to me. I went to a school that had a well-balanced mix of students of every color and color had no bearing on my choice of friends. But sixty years ago this was not an expectation one had in the segregated South. Melba's fight for equality and fair treatment though began before her birth as her Grandmother India fought through persistence to get her delivery to be allowed within the walls of a white hospital. But her fight didn't end with her graduation from high school but rather continued on to her higher educational endeavors and her fight for acceptance into the world of journalism as both a woman and a person of color. There are moments of heartbreak and moments of joy and triumph that will touch the heart of the reader. And the sustaining force in Melba'a life was the faith that her grandmother shared with her. A faith that allowed her to go forth each day into what could be her last. A faith that sustained her as she raised her children and struggled to keep them safe in a world that was a dangerous as the one she negotiated as a teenager. I highly recommend this book for those who want to see faith in action in the face of a fallen and hate-filled world. This is not light reading and each chapter should be taken in slowly and thoughtfully so as to have the greatest impact on the reader's own life. This would make an excellent book club choice and be a good addition to the shelf of any library - public, school or personal. I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher Revell with no expectations of a positive review ~ all opinions expressed are my own.
vics49548 More than 1 year ago
Known as the Little Rock Nine, these students endured things I will never and can never imagine. The courage and determination shown by Beals, in the face of court orders and police lines, was incredible. To hear of the encouragement from Dr. Martin Luther King was inspiring to me. "You're not doing this for yourself. You are doing this for generations yet unborn." Not a light, easy read due to the subject matter (the harrowing things these students went through), it was astonishing to see how she persevered in the face of hatred by leaning on God. And that she didn’t allow it to turn to hate is just proof that with God there is always forgiveness. While I wanted to love this story, I didn’t. I did like it but I feel she could have put more passion into it to draw in the reader. That said it definitely is worth reading as a way of understanding where we were, where we have come, and where we still need to go. I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to post a review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would learn that God is everywhere… His love exists without limitations of color or race… Their very special acceptance and love would become a life-changing experience for me. They would remain my primary family throughout my life until this very moment. Living with the McCabes and being welcomed so completely by them also would initiate a major shift in my perspective of my place in the world and my sense of humanity. – p. 86 In the fall of 1957, nine African-American students enrolled in the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Melba Pattillo Beals, just fourteen, was among them. Surrounded by an angry mob, the students were denied entry that first day. The hostility and resistance to integration rapidly necessitated intervention by the federal government. Soldiers of the 101st Airborne division were brought in, escorting the nine to and from each class. Yet the violence, the natural child of racism, continued unabated. Beals was slapped, punched, kicked and even had acid thrown in her eyes. She, along with the others, received death threats. In 1958, Governor Faubus shut down Central High and the other high schools, resulting in a year lost to the Nine and to all the African-American students in the town. Eventually, Beals was forced to relocate to California, with the help of the NAACP, for her own safety. The white McCabe family, Quakers who were active in the Civil Rights movement, opened their arms to this young woman who had experienced little in the way of kindness from white people. One cannot be an honest student of history and believe that racism never existed, doesn’t exist today or that it was/is “not a big deal.” Nine teenagers wanted the chance for a better education. They chose to put themselves on the line so future generations would not have to suffer the “separate but equal” nonsense. Ignorance and evil exploded in their faces. Why? Because someone, somewhere, long ago decided that the color of their skin made them inferior. Racism is idiotic and anti-Gospel. Beals makes this clear as she shares bits and pieces of her story. I Will Not Fear is not told in a strictly chronological format, which is really my only complaint about the book, because I love a tidy timeline. She invites the reader to share in her experiences with hatred and violence. There is no hemming or hawing in her words. Black type on white pages force the reader to grapple with the very real evil done to a very young woman. Throughout, Beals returns to the lessons her Grandmother India taught her: Are we a faith family or have we given up on trusting God for His protection? Isn’t that the bottom line? When you go, Melba, God will be with you. – p. 40 That is the bottom line, isn’t it? God is with us wherever we go. He will empower us to do whatever He has called us to do. This is not a light read, despite the page count coming in at just 200. It took me several weeks to make my way through, because I had to step away and think about what I was learning. We are just 60 years removed from these terrible events. We would be naive to think that “it’s all over” and “everything is fine.” This country has yet to truly come to terms with its past or its present. While nobody needs to take on guilt that isn’t theirs to own, it is important that we listen to the stories. That we take it all in. That we let God expose what needs exposing. I Will Not Fear is well worth your time. I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FOR REVIEW.
benhli38 More than 1 year ago
Melba Patillo Beals's book I will Not Fear should be regarded as an instant hit in the faith department. Even though she describes her early days of high school experience at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas as tough, and a hard time to go through due to death threats and all she has overcome a great deal. She gives us an account of how her grandmother equipped her enough to deal with life's issues as a woman of faith. For me, I think Melba comes across as a bit of a Deborah type of woman. Even though Melba had to go through a lot in her life to get to the woman she is now shows not just a great deal of faith on her part, but also shows the strength and love Jesus Christ has given her to endure such terrible things such as hatred. At a time when the Ku Klux Klan was most at its height, during the 1950s, Melba endured life's harshness, I would say--with grace and poise. She gives us not only a glimpse of her life at Central High in Little Rock, but also those of her friends who integrated with her at Central High. I would say it's not an easy read due to certain things she talks about--hatred and the lengths some people go through who are hate-filled, but when it comes to faith-building you have to look at some of the harshness in life to see how much God overcomes on our part. If it wasn't for His love and grace, which He endured on the cross, no one could ever stand firm for the faith He so instills and gives to us. I find her story to be a rich tapestry of love, endurance, perseverance, faith and strength. I received a complimentary book from Revell for an honest and fair review.
AngelN1 More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. The author's participation in the integration of Little Rock was fascinating, and this was the strongest part of the book, but it is only the beginning. I wonder if her memoir Warriors Don't Cry would be more engaging for me. Her story of severe, life-threatening racism is valuable and eye-opening, especially for someone of my age who always went to school with children of other races and thought it nothing unusual to have them over to our house or to go to theirs. That said, as a story, it was a little disjointed after the first couple of chapters. It was more a collection of memories, and no other people in her stories became fully "alive" to the reader. And I came to have a real problem with her attitudes toward education over marriage about halfway through the book, when she kept stressing her mom's mantra of "Education lasts forever, but husbands are temporary." Overall, I think she has been an important eye witness to a truly troubling era of our history, and she has certainly had an unusual amount of trials but has learned to rely on her faith to help her through. I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.
Cherylkochbooks More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. This is a very important milestone event in history that should be remembered and learned from. In fact, this book could not have come at a more appropriate time. We seem to be at a crossroads and taking steps back instead of forward. Plus, I thought that the author did a nice job of helping to remind us how our faith can be tested in difficult situations but it will remain strong if not stronger at long as we trust in God. As I was reading this book, I did feel like I got to know the author. She is someone that I would want to meet in person and listen to more of her stories. Yet, why this book may have talked about faith, it was not preachy. To be honest, there is nothing worse then feeling like you are being preached to when you are not looking for it. This is a nice read.
Cherylkochbooks More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. This is a very important milestone event in history that should be remembered and learned from. In fact, this book could not have come at a more appropriate time. We seem to be at a crossroads and taking steps back instead of forward. Plus, I thought that the author did a nice job of helping to remind us how our faith can be tested in difficult situations but it will remain strong if not stronger at long as we trust in God. As I was reading this book, I did feel like I got to know the author. She is someone that I would want to meet in person and listen to more of her stories. Yet, why this book may have talked about faith, it was not preachy. To be honest, there is nothing worse then feeling like you are being preached to when you are not looking for it. This is a nice read.
StacyA64 More than 1 year ago
Melba Pettillo Beals was a young girl in 1957. She was also one of the nine African American students chosen to integrate Little Rock, Arkansas's all-white Central High School. She is one of the faces in the grainy black and white photos that most of us recognize from history class or documentaries on television. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book, but I've come away from the reading of it wishing I could meet Ms. Beals. She wrote so honestly of her life from those days in Little Rock right up to the present. It was eye-opening, for me as a white woman, to read about what it was like in Little Rock and inside Central High from someone who was there, who was right in the middle of it, and experienced it all. She writes of the ways it changed her life and her community, both good and bad. Much of what Beals went through I had never heard about, but I also never thought about it that deeply....the small but constant injustices, the effect it had on the African American community, the toll it took on that group known as the Little Rock Nine. Beals also writes about her marriage, her career, and her children and life since Little Rock. She was surely shaped by that event and by the strong faith in God fostered in her by her grandmother, whose advice she remembers often and quotes throughout the book. As she shares the new kinds of discrimination and oppression she finds outside of Little Rock as an African American and a woman....even in liberal California....she can't help but share her faith as it is woven throughout her life, a part of who she is. It was very refreshing to read how naturally she makes it a part of her life and leans on God in all things. She could have allowed circumstances to make her bitter or cause her to take actions she'd later regret, but all along she heard her grandmama's advice, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. when he told her she didn't fight for herself but for those who would come after her, and the still, small voice of God giving her strength. The life of Ms Beals is a fascinating one and I am glad to have learned about her and her experiences. She has a beautiful spirit and a love of God that is inspiring. I have a better understanding, not only of what things were like back in the 1950's and 60's, but of some of the discrimination still faced by African Americans today. I highly recommend this book to all but young children as some of the things told are rather intense and violent.
NadineTimes10 More than 1 year ago
As the title indicates, this isn’t just an account contained within the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, but it spans much more of the author’s lifetime and experiences. Even so, issues of prejudice and equal (or unequal) rights, including gender inequality, appear frequently throughout this story of adversity, faith, and perseverance. This isn’t a book about detached, historical “figures” but about people. It’s not a testimony of immediate victories for social justice, or complete accord within the black community. Beals wasn’t even always sure she was doing the right thing by being a part of integration. The author makes interesting points, including how racism isn’t merely about donning conspicuous white hoods or blatantly calling black people “the N word.” Subtle racism is just as vicious, and also treacherous, particularly when it’s institutionalized or otherwise trickier to call out and combat. Still, one of my biggest takeaways from the book is that when it comes to injustice and other challenges, you have to know when it’s time to hold your peace and simply keep on living, and when it’s time to speak up and fight. Again, this book is about much more than racism and civil rights, but I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in social justice, Christian memoirs, or both. ___________ Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.