Life during the civil rights movement was quite confusing. My parent weren’t racist that I knew of. In Arkansas the white folks really expressed their feelings for the Negroes in what seemed to me a ridiculous manner. As a matter of fact I was embarrassed to be a white person. My family was religious and taught us about Jesus and the way people should be treated. Every person should be treated equally; the sad thing is that most of the white people treating the black people wrong were “Christian. Growing up my parents didn’t explain what all the hatred was about. As far as I knew I thought Negroes were white people who drank a lot of chocolate milk. And when I tried to talk to one of them they seemed scared to reply or look at me for that matter. I was just trying to make some new friends. As I got older I had a couple colored friends. I never really paid any attention to why they didn’t go to my school. It never seemed to bother them. I guess they were used to it. I was a sophomore at Central High School in Little Rock.
We were about one third of the way through the year. Tuesday morning I was headed to school, once the school came in sight I could hear people yelling and chanting. There was a huge crowd gathered at the front door of the school. I asked around to see what was going on; one man told me nine Negroes were trying to join the school. I didn’t see a problem with that. At the main entrance I saw the governor telling the crowd which seemed to be the entire city that he would not let the Negroes enter the school.
He had the National Guard there to stop them if they tried. Word about this got to President Eisenhower real quick. He sent troops here to make sure those students got in that school safely. The guards stayed with the students for the rest of the year. During that time the students were beat up and yelled at. They were treated like trash. At lunch they sat alone. Me and some other people introduced ourselves and sat with them. This made everyone mad at us just for sitting with them.
At the end of the year I wasn’t sure if they would even want to return. After seeing the things they were put through made me stand up for them more and help them in their situation. Once people started seeing me with the Negroes little by little the tension faded. Even after the Brown versus the Board of Education decision Southern states were still segregated. They refused to change but what happened at Central High School just added momentum to the Civil Rights Movement. This led to other events in the south that helped stop segregation.