Interview with Melba Pattillo Beals
QUESTION 23
INTERVIEWER:

YOU TALKED ABOUT STRENGTH. THE STRENGTH THAT YOU GAINED FROM THIS, BE SPECIFIC WHEN YOU TALK TO ME ABOUT THOSE PERSONAL STRENGTHS.

Melba Pattillo Beals:

I learned from Little Rock to care more about people, ‘cause I don't ever, ever, want to hurt anybody the way I was hurt. I learned the strengths and weaknesses in people. I learned my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned that the color of racism is neither black nor white, it is an entity. The color of hatred is neither black nor white. Some of the people who were the kindest to me in my life have been white. The reason I live today is because of these people whose skin was white. It has to do with this horrible entity. It's a thing, it's an ugly, ugly thing, and you've got to get past it no matter where you see it, whether in the Holocaust in Germany, or it's in Little Rock, or it's in Vietnam. It's a thing that triggers people to mistreat other people and not to remember that we are all God's children and we are all human. And when that thing arises, each of us is responsible to do what we have to do to stop it. So Little Rock taught me to respect human life and to know that I cannot give it so don't take it and don't abuse it. Because I will not go ever into the space that anybody went with me, I will not do that to another human being. So it taught me to love.