A memoir that will leave you deep in thought: "I Will Not Fear" by Melba Pattillo Beals

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about the book....

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 you on an unforgettable journey through terror, oppression, and persecution, highlighting the kind of faith we all need 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, her story offers hope that faith is the solution to the pervasive hopelessness of our current culture.

my review....

Melba Pattillo Beals has lived a life that is sure to inspire countless readers with her courage and faith in the face of extreme prejudice and discrimination. Once I opened the pages of her memoir, "I Will Not Fear", I literally couldn't walk away from the first few chapters as I read of her experience of integrating into Central High School to the point that her very life was in danger.  Her journey following those harrowing days also offers moments that readers can learn from as she grows to lean on God through one trial after another. Up until the moment she married, I probably would have given this book a very high rating. However, I have to admit that the chapter where she admits to being bored being a wife and mother and how this plays into her decision to divorce was one that did not sit well with me. I certainly recognize that her husband was absolutely not supporting her to use her God given talents to her full ability and that her health was experiencing serious decline from her marriage as well. But does that justify getting a divorce and subjecting your child to the consequences? If she had made some sort of acknowledgement that she realizes, in retrospect, that her decision did not line up with God's will according to his Word, that would have been one thing, as every single one of us messes up every day. But she paints her actions as being what God was calling her to do - and that was disappointing to read. However, with the exception of that issue, I greatly appreciated the wisdom she shares from her experiences of standing up to prejudice and living out the truth that we are each created equal in God's eyes, that we each have worth and value and are deeply loved by God. That is a truth that is desperately needed in our culture, and our church.

"I Will Not Fear" is a book that has left me deep in thought, and I am sure I will again be picking up this book to read through Melba Pattillo Beals story of her life. May we all hope to leave a legacy of such courage and faith in the midst of such trials! I give this book a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

about the author....

Melba Pattillo Beals
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.

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