Interview with Melba Pattillo Beals
QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

OK, BEGIN TO NOW TELL ME THE KIND OF HARASSMENT, THE KIND OF ATTACK YOU YOURSELF WERE INVOLVED WITH AND AGAIN, GIVE ME THAT SENSE OF BEING FIFTEEN—[unintelligible]

Melba Pattillo Beals:

The first day that we went to school, the kind of things that I endured were [white] parents got in the school, and parents were kicking, parents were hitting, parents were throwing things. You would get tripped, people would just walk up and hit you in the face. And you couldn't hit back, we'd been instructed by this time that any attempts to hit back to respond, to call a name in response would mean the end of the case. So, by now we were savvy warriors. We were beginning the journey towards becoming the warrior that would make the trip through Central High School. And so, I had to shift my head into a new space. My grandmother would say to me, you know, "Turn the other cheek, and understand what it meant to be the Christ." And that was what I would have in my mind. And you know, anything that was possible to happen, did happen. This now, is the area, this is the first day we go in without the troops. So the, the greatest feeling I had was one of a lack of protection. There was nobody to resort to. There was no help, there was no one on my side, I was on my side. And the only way to get through it was to count on myself.