Courageous Journalism: Belva Davis vs. Melba Pattillo Beals”

comparison essay sample


Never in My Wildest Dreams and Warriors Don’t Cry depict the struggles of two women against discrimination. The books reveal how Belva Davis and Melba Pattillo Beals managed to face their fight. For example, Never in My Wildest Dreams tells the story of Davis who became a reporter when the main media channels did not accept African American female journalists. Initially, she had been working as the black correspondent for African American radio stations. In 1966, when society started redefining the ethnic origin, Davis became the first black female employed as a television newscast reporter in the Western United States. Never in My Wildest Dreams portrays Davis’ journalism experience and her investigation on the AIDS scourge for which she earned honors. It also reveals the story of the sad loss of her long-time producer. She discusses honestly the troubles of handling her family and pursuing her career while being forced to fight silently racism and chauvinism. While overcoming the obstacles, she remains sensible and follows her vision. In fact, she has changed the view on who could be a respectable television bulletin correspondent. Similarly, Melba represents the principal character and the narrator of Warriors Don’t Cry. She is one of the first black scholars in the United States who joined a formerly all-white high school. She battles discrimination in its numerous forms through her whole life. Both authors are the epitome of individuals who do not despair in the fight against discrimination. However, their characters differ like their struggles. Having compared two persons, it is evident that Belva Davis is more courageous. The comparison is based on two journalists, particularly on how they face discrimination. Davis as appears to be stronger than Melba owing to her underprivileged background and her vigor to fight subjugation. The essay clarifies why Belva Davis is a hero in comparison to Melba Patillo despite the fact that they both were eager to end discrimination.

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Belva Davis starts her story in extremely isolated Monroe, Louisiana, during the course of the Great Depression. The narration resembles a lifespan packed with a mysterious capability to overcome problems and benefit from the situation. She faces subjugation at school but handles it courageously. Melba, on the other hand, takes a passive approach only saying a mere “thank you” when facing the bias. Moreover, her struggle inspires even in the 21st century as she received different accolades and awards, including eight Emmy Awards and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and Northern California Television Academy (Anjetta n.p.). Unfortunately, her journey is not unique. When she decided to articulate her story, Davis wanted to motivate young correspondents to resolve apparently impossible tasks from daily life. Davis’ recollections of her infancy epitomize the sorrow of every minority child. According to Davis, she became “portable, and rather similar to an ancient bag that they would carry from place to place” (Davis n.p.). It resulted from her parent’s incapacity to care for her. Her family escaped the racism of the Deep South and moved Oakland, California, as part of the Second Great Migration through the Second World War. Unfortunately, life in California did not bring more advantages to Davis. She defines how she confronted alone bias in school while being a black Southerner. Though, Melba had a support – Danny and Arkansas National Guard. When Melba faced angry segregationist mobs, she confessed: “I desired to turn and flee, but I held to what Danny had said, fighters survive” (Patillo n.p.). Unlike Melba, Davis had to continue her battle alone. She suffered from abandonment and mistreatment. Her home was “packed with individuals but deficient in affection.” During the narration of Warriors Don’t Cry, Melba changes from a normal juvenile girl to a tough fighter. When she enters Little Rock Central High School, she lacks the inkling of the suffering she will encounter. With Grandma India’s assistance, Melba understands the importance of bigger social issues over the leisure time, partners and lovers, and supplementary undertakings. Thus, she learns about injustice and possible ways to fight it from a close family member compared to Davis who does not receive any explanations from her parents. Melba learns rapidly that her standard high school environment will be different. What she will encounter is a continuing struggle which her Grandma India defines as the “God’s battle” (Patillo n.p.).

Regardless of Davis’ distant family relations, she meets those who help and provide her with love and support. Davis remembers when she was deprived of the right to rehearse for her high school bowling club at the resident bowling alley because according to the manager: “We do not allow Negroes bowl here” (Davis n.p.). Davis recounts that “no one had ever stood up to me before. I was hit by the influence of one lady to challenge racism head on and defeat it. She had just offered me one of the entire vital teachings of my life” (Davis n.p.). However, some individuals do support her. For example, her teacher threatened to withdraw the whole team if the proprietor refused to let Davis play. Even though Davis is the only one in her close family who finished high school, neither she nor her household was able to pay for college. Being unable to enter college and have formal reporting preparation, she commences volunteering and freelancing. It is when she learns how to “accurately record the facts that bring a story to life” (Davis n.p.). In comparison, Melba has a chance to attend high school. She states: “When my tutor probed if anybody who dwelled within Central High School District desired to go to school with white persons, I lifted up my hands” (Patillo n.p.). Taking into consideration personal influence on the author’s life, Davis dissolved the first matrimony. Though, Melba also ended some of the relations and broke with her mate, Vince. When the surrounding around Davis started shifting, she “permitted [herself] to trance along with them.” Davis founded “The Belva Davis Show” in the 1960s, integrating every conventional notion of female programs, such as recipes, care advice, and beauty. Obviously, her story motivates modern youth. Thus, Davis has decided to share her thoughts with others because she remains a role model that managed to face daily hostility and persecution (Williams n.p.). In fact, she was among those who were inspired by Martin Luther King expressing his vision. After his actions, she started to focus on ideas which could change the society. Consequently, Davis appeared television as the first female black lady announcing the news. She believes that television gives the chance to address social problems, but during those days, it failed to embody the populace of America. Being a television journalist, she recounts university riots, the Black Panthers, and a plane trip with Senator Robert Kennedy. Moreover, she describes her visits to Ronald Reagan in Sacramento when he was an administrator, interviews with the President Gerald Ford, the mass suicide of Rev. Jim Jones’ supporters, and trips to Cuba where she met Fidel Castro (Holman n.p.).

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In fact, Davis faced more obstacles during her journalism career comparing to Melba. Melba does not mention discrimination in the press industry in her book. In fact, she is eager to endure till the end of the year and to attest to the segregationists that she is strong. When Melba enters new school, she has to conceal her extraordinary character and remain passive when facing discrimination. When persons slap her or spit on her, Melba says:  “Thank You!” She refuses to fight back. Her actions do not relate to Davis attitude because she learns to continue fighting in order to prove that she deserves career (Guthrie n.p.). Unlike Davis, Melba was in despair: “I was starting to resign myself to the actuality that white persons were certainly in control, and there was nothing we could do about it” (Patillo n.p.). Melba believes in it so firmly that others start avoiding her because of weak response. However, in a few years, Melba has changed into an attractive teenage girl who can fight. She has substituted her innocence with the determination. This transformation is the reason why Melba eventually endeavored to become a journalist. She feels that it is because of her experience in Central High School she joined the press. She perceives her career as a reporter as an extension of that battle. Moreover, mature Melba discovers that she cannot avoid the fight. Thus, she has been guided by the belief that she can change the attitude of others. However, Davis searches relentlessly for the means to address important problems regarding impartiality and female issues throughout her profession from the very beginning. For instance, when television was still “significantly a boy’s club” in the 1970s, Davis created series devoted to the breast cancer. Later, she received Emmy Award for that show (Anjetta n.p.).  She joined and became a frontrunner of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), attempting to guide fresh reporters and performers. Davis also created the Miss Bronze Northern California Pageant. She hosted the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame twice. She helped during the inauguration of the Museum of the African Diaspora. Undoubtedly, Melba has achieved high results in her reporting career, but Davis appears to be more determined to spread awareness among public. However, she admits that her children “paid the price for [her] profession” (Davis n.p.). She confesses that as one of the first employed individuals in her industry, she had to work harder than everybody else. Davis notes that she “blundered on the side of obsessive overachievement at the workplace, perhaps short-changing [her] household in the process.” However, every her attempt to voice public concerns had a tremendous impact on society (Harris n.p.). During her career, Davis articulates that she “categorically never said no.” She comments: “I accepted anything the editors threw my way. I sensed the desire to attest, regularly, that I could manage anything.” Davis certainly did verify that. However, Melba does not focus on the accomplishments in her reporting career describing the story of her year in white school.


In conclusion, Melba and Davis have undergone harsh reality of life and encountered discrimination during their pursuit of justice. However, both journalists have employed different approaches to fight bias. Davis appears to be highly determined since she responded to the attacks alone. Both authors face many challenges, but Melba decided to follow a passive approach against discrimination at school. In fact, compared to Melba, Davis also earned public recognition for her lifetime struggle for equality.

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