Interview with Phyllis Ellison

I want you to tell us about the day that Michael Faith was stabbed. How did you first learn that anything had happened? Describe what you saw and what you heard. Were you frightened? How did you leave school that day?


I remember the day Michael Faith got stabbed, ah, vividly because, ah, I was in the principal's office and all of a sudden you heard a loud commotion and you heard kids screaming and yelling and saying, "He's dead, he's dead. That Black nigger killed him and he's dead, he's dead."** And then the principal running out of the office. And there, there was a lot of commotion and screaming, yelling, hollering, "Get the niggers at Southie." It was a riot, I mean, I was really afraid. And the principal, ah, came back into the office and said, "Call the ambulance and send all the Black students that were in the office to stay there." And a police officer was in there and they were trying to get the White students out of the building because they had just gone on a rampage and they were just going to hurt the first Black student that they saw. Anyone that was caught in the cor- corridor that day would be hurt. Once that happened, it probably took about 15, 20 minutes for the, the police officers to get all the White students out. And the Black students were locked in their rooms and no Whites, all the White students were let go out of their classrooms. And the Black students were locked inside the classroom. I remember us going into, ah, a room and outside, you just saw a mass of, a crowd of people, I mean you just, so many people, I can't even count. They just looked like little bumblebees or something, there was that many. And that Louise Day Hicks was on top of the stairs saying, "Let the niggers go back to Roxbury. Send them back to Roxbury." And the crowd booing her and Hicks is saying, "No, no, no. We want to get them, we won't let them go." I remember the police cars coming up the street, attempting to and turning over the police cars and I was just amazed that, that they could do something like that and, they, so they tried, the police tried to get horses up. They wouldn't let the horses get up. They stoned the horses. They stoned the cars. And I thought that day that we would never get out of South Boston High School.** We had lunch and I remember they would not tell the students what was happening at any time, how they were going to get us out of the schools. I think the officials were really afraid too, because they did not know, after the police car was turned over, Louise Day Hicks couldn't control the crowd. And, so they didn't really know how they were going to get us out of the school. And I think it was big mystery to them. Finally, it must have been 2:30 or 3:00 that afternoon, all of a sudden, all you heard was, ah, you're going out the back door. You're going out the back door. At that moment we had to run to the buses** in the back door. They had used the buses as a decoy and they told us to get down and stay down. When we got on the bus I remember the glass being shattered all over the floor and they told us to stay down. Because if one White person had saw us running through the back door, there would have been a mess. You know there may have been some people even killed that day because they would have had to protect the students. I remember after we all went down Bayside Mall and all our mothers was waiting for us and saying that, "You know, they would never let us go back to school again." And at that point in time I was really afraid. I didn't know what I was going to do. After that, I think the next couple of days of school was closed, to get some law and order back. And there had to be, ah, something done about what had happened. And the school officials had to figure out a way in which the Black students were going to be safe at South Boston High School because they knew that the White students wanted retaliation for Michael Faith's stabbing.


Great. Cut. Fabulous.