Interview with Ernest Green


Ernest Green:

Yeah, I had been there nine months and uh had thought that all I needed to do was to graduate. Uh, just get out of there. Uh, and that uh, it would be impossible for white people to say that nobody black had ever graduated from Central High School. So the graduation was in May, uh, I was having difficulty with one course, it was a Physics course. And almost up to the last minute didn't know whether I was going to complete it s—uh, successfully so that I would be able to uh, uh to get out of there. But uh, as things were I got a fairly decent grade out of it. And uh, at the graduation ceremony, uh, one of the guests was uh, Martin Luther King. He was speaking in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, uh, A. M. and N. at the black college there. And uh, came up to sit with my mother, Mrs. Bates, and a couple of other friends uh, in the audience. And all I could think of, there were six hundred and some odd students graduating that night, it was in the stadium, the place was packed, cameras, lights, uh, to record this event, and I said now, I can't walk across this stage and stumble [laughter]. And uh, all I figured that I had to do was to get up to the principal, take that diploma and walk off the other end and it would be over. I would have done, done my, my duty and uh, uh, been able to have a, a relaxing summer. Because it really wasn't, certainly wasn't the way to go to, to go to school under that, that kind of pressure.