Interview with Melba Pattillo Beals
QUESTION 10
INTERVIEWER:

TELL ME THE STORY ABOUT SAYING THE LORD'S PRAYER AND HOW YOU HAD—

Melba Pattillo Beals:

Well, they separated us. They said to us, the school official said to us, this is harder than I thought it was going to be. The school official said to us, "You want integration? we'll give you integration. We will separate you," and so indeed, in a school of 2,500 or so, they sent us nine different ways. My home room was, I believe is number 313. So it meant that I had to go up, by myself, three flights of stairs. And the only way I could get up those stairs was to say the Lord's Prayer repeatedly. And that's how I got there. I could not look to my left or my right, if I was hit I had not to respond. Some of the times, in the first day, I was escorted by a teacher, and so I, you know, I would say the Lord's Prayer and I would get to my class and I would sit down. Then you're in an enclosed classroom and you think to yourself, things are going to be better, but they're not because teachers—nobody was prepared to control this crowd. So now you're in a class with maybe twenty other people and you get a different kind of harassment. You get a controlled harassment. You get name-calling, you get the beginnings of what we were to endure later on. This first day, we're still talking about this first day, was only the first layer of this iceberg that we were going to be able to penetrate later on.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

TAKE SIX.