Interview with Myrlie Evers
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

THAT'S OK.

Myrlie Evers:

Oh, I said that from the very beginning—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

THIS WILL BE TAKE TWO.

[unintelligible].

ORLANDO BAGWELL:

—WHAT YOU REMEMBER HURTS, OR WHETHER WHAT YOU REMEMBER COMES BACK AS A VERY LOVING KIND OF EXPERIENCE ABOUT YOUR STATE AND HOW YOU LIVED?

Myrlie Evers:

Some of the things that I remember most about Vicksburg and, and the state of Mississippi, growing up as a child were some of the very bad effects that that segregated society had on me, and certainly on others. I recall walking miles past a white school to go to the school that was reserved for coloreds, as we were called then. And passing through that white neighborhood and having little small children who could barely walk, who could barely talk, run out and say, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." I recall feeling then an anger and a hurt and a frustration, and I would ask my grandmother and my aunt, you know, "Why, why does this happen?" You know, "Why, why do they call us those names?" And in that day "nigger" and "black" were two very derogatory names and it's interesting how that, that shifted and changed particularly in, in the term "black." But, they would tell me, "Sweetheart, that's the way it is. Don't worry about it. What you have to do is to achieve your highest goals in this society." You know, you don't challenge the system, you rise to the very top within the bounds and limitations that they, meaning the politicians, what-not have, have given you in this society. I knew that that wasn't right. I felt it wasn't right, but I didn't know exactly what to do about it as a child. One of the other incidents that happened almost weekly were the times when we rode the city buses. Now for the most part when I was a child, there were very few people who had a car in Vicksburg, so we walked where we had to go or we rode the bus. And always, you had to be in those last couple of seats in the back. At one period there was even what we used to call a "chicken screen," the net that divided our two or three seats from the rest of the seats on the bus. Vicksburg is a very hilly city and it appeared to us, and it was certainly true, that the bus drivers would apply their brakes to make us all kind of fall back on each other. They would apply them suddenly. I can recall how we as high school students talked about that—the fact that we even stopped riding buses for a while out of protest. It certainly didn't help us but that was our way, and of course, the officials in Vicksburg didn't care one way or the other because that was the only transportation that we had.