Long before she was one of the Little Rock Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals was a warrior. Frustrated by the laws that kept African-Americans separate but very much unequal to whites, she had questions. Why couldn’t she drink from a “whites only” fountain? Why couldn’t she feel safe beyond home—or even within the walls of church? Adults all told her: Hold your tongue. Be patient. Know your place. But Melba had the heart of a fighter—and the knowledge that her true place was a free one.
Dr. Melba Beals
Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals’ life is defined by her commitment to equality for all and activism in the interests of social justice. In 1957, Melba Pattillo was one of nine African-American high school students to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Under the protection of the 101st Airborne Division of the Army, dispatched by President Eisenhower, Melba and 8 other African-American youths integrated the previously all-white Central High School.
The “Little Rock Nine” defied mobs, death threats and physical attacks. Armed only with the practices of peaceful resistance, each day they attended school was a physical and psychological trial. Their endurance, born of a desire to remedy social injustice and seek equality in education was the first, heroic salvo in the battle for desegration of our public educational system.
Dr. Beals told the story of her time at Central High in her best selling memoir, “Warriors Don’t Cry”. This inspiring history is part of the social studies curriculum for middle and high schools across the country.
In 1999, Congress awarded Dr. Beals and her Little Rock Nine companions the Congressional Gold Medal — the nation’s highest honor — for their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
Her Central High experiences ignited in Melba a lifelong passion for education. After Little Rock, she moved to California where she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Francisco State University. She pursued graduate studies in New York and was awarded a certificate in journalism and media from the Ford Foundation, and Columbia University, recognizing her as one of 32 minority journalists in the country who integrated the Media.
Dr. Beals’ successful career in journalism and public relations, included holding posts as an on-camera television reporter for KQED’s Newsroom, as an NBC-TV news reporter, and as a radio news talk show host for KGO, ABC radio, San Francisco. She has written articles for People, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine.
In 1999 Dr. Beals joined Dominican University of California where she founded the Department of Communications and Media Studies. Under her leadership, first as director, and later as chair, the program grew, responding swiftly to the rapidly changing media industry. As news broadcasting and publishing industries merged with video and Web formats, the department expanded its offering to reflect this convergence. Students gained the opportunity to write across the media and learn new technologies such as digital video, podcasting, and digital radio.
Her experiences running her own PR firm led to the publication in 1990 of her best selling book on self-promotion, “Expose Yourself”.
Dr. Beals introduced programs that allowed students to gain real-world experiences including radio.dominican.edu the University’s student-operated Internet radio station, as well as The Habit, the student newspaper. The multi-media journalism class that created and produced The Habit received high praise from external WASC accreditation reviewers as “the best, class in the entire school.”
Continuing her commitment to equality of opportunity, Dr. Beals also helped found the university’s Diversity Action Group that helped to establish Dominican as a diversity-affirming institution. She also created the university’s TORCH program, a student support and mentoring program for entering students.
In 2009, Melba received her doctoral degree in international multicultural studies from the University of San Francisco, and in 2014 retired as Chair Emerita.
Today, Dr. Beals maintains a busy schedule writing, speaking and bearing witness to the vital role truth, equality and justice play in our lives. She inspires and informs audiences including: middle, high school and college students; community groups; employees’ unions; professional and business associations and corporations.
Our mission is to inform, empower and inspire!! Communication is the effective sending and receiving of messages. We strive to devise those sentences that will empower others to see how precious they are and to value their words and their contributions to all that takes place around them. We seek words that will also bring joy, peace and love as they encourage more effective communication. We’ve been told by philosophers and spiritual leaders for centuries that words are our most powerful tool but at times they’ve been tossed about carelessly. Words can also denigrate, harm or destroy when used inappropriately. They can nurture, empower, energize and enlighten when used thoughtfully. It is our goal to inspire people to think before they speak and write and think so that any and all their statements are gifts they choose to share.
Our Inspiring Communications program is still under construction. Please stay tuned for more details
“Your message has forever touched our hearts and lives. Your attitude, after what you have experienced, is inspiring. Thank you for the mark you have made on our nations’ history. We are forever grateful!
— L. B.
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