Interview with Melba Pattillo Beals
QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT DID THAT ACT OF BURNING THE BOOKS, WHAT DID THAT SAY, WHAT DID THAT MEAN?

Melba Pattillo Beals:

That I could burn away all my pain, you know. That when I burned the books, I was burning the pain, you know, the terrible, the terrible anguish, the terrible fear, that I felt this feeling that is still to me indescribable. The feeling of not being enough or not being you know, what's wrong? The pain, the horrible pain that you can't get beyond, that you can only go through. The fear, the extraordinary fear that I felt, that I learned to live with this fear. It must be what it's like to be you know, a prisoner of war camp. You gotta learn to live with the fear and I learned to live with the fear. So, the burning was saying hey, you know, I'm going to make it. It really doesn't matter. I will make it. I can get beyond all of what you do to me and what you say to me doesn't make me.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

TAKE TWELVE. FALSE MARK. SECOND MARK.