Interview with Melba Pattillo Beals
QUESTION 1
INTERVIEWER:

I'D LIKE TO GET YOU TO DESCRIBE TO ME LITTLE ROCK. YOU'RE BACK THEN, YOU'RE ABOUT TO GO INTO HIGH SCHOOL, YOU PROBABLY HAVEN'T THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE. I'D LIKE TO GET AN IDEA OF THE LITTLE ROCK THAT YOU EXPERIENCED AS A YOUNG PERSON BEFORE YOU'VE GONE TO SCHOOL.

Melba Pattillo Beals:

Little Rock was separated. My world was for the most part black. Part of my family is white, my first cousins, etc. and those people I would go to town with occasionally, do things with, but for the most part my world was black. I went to a black high school called, First Horseman, and then I just went to school every day. My mother was a school teacher. I lived with my grandmother. My parents were divorced. So, I, my life consisted of school and church. You must make good grades. You must polish your saddle shoes. There were no parks. My one big desire had been to ride a merry-go-round and swim in a pool. And, I can do that. There was a park there called "Fair Park" and we would go there sometimes, but I couldn't use the pool. And I kept wondering why, you know, that I couldn't do that. And going on rides on Sunday with my mother and we'd go past always Central High School, because it was a castle, looked like a castle and I always [ what ] was inside of it. So it was my life. It was very simple. A lot of reading, a lot of family kinds of things, a lot of Bible reading with my grandmother, a lot of memorizing Bible verses—very simple, very southern.