An older African American woman recounts her life growing up in the 1960’s in the racist south. She tells this story to her daughter who accidently sees a series of scars on her back and inquires where they came from. Her mother reverts back to her teenage years of the Civil Rights Movement and the night that her friends decided to do their part and integrate the “White Park.” The night was planned out with parent knowledge and assistance and in the midst of them trying to do the right thing a lot of bad thins happened to them. She shares her story as vividly as it was on the day that it happened. Through her eyes her daughter was able to see what her mother was willing to go through so that she would never be treated as anything but an equal.

DI/ Female- Integrating Stuttgart, Arkansas 1963

  • I stood there and looking up at the tree fixating my eyes on the rope that was hanging from a long branch. I looked at all the white men who felt safe and secure, faces hidden behind there white masks. (Laughs) I never could understand the Klan. Be a man and show me your face as I am forced to show you mine. If you are going to kill me, you will damn sure be looking me in the face when you do it. (Beat) Through the rise of the Arkansas sun I can see them. One, two, three, four…fighters for freedom. I was born in Stuttgart, Arkansas September 1, 1946. Stuttgart was one of those places where there was a specific area where the white people lived and if go across the tracks there was the area where the black people lived. And like any good racist southern town we have a black park and a white park, a black school and white school, a white library, we didn’t have a library, white liquor store, white grocery store, a white church and a black church, all the good makings of a perfect racially separate town. When I was growing up "perfect racist town" meant that if you want to keep your town safe from those deviants you better make sure that you keep the colored away from your kids. That was the ignorance that I grew up with. But in my day I never viewed myself as a deviant, but it was definitely, definitely drilled into my head that I was not equal, I will never be equal, and I am less of a person and my white counterparts. You’d thing that when you're taught something like that for so many years you start to believe it, but my momma always told me that I am worth all the money in the world and then some, a treasure. In spite of it all, this was home. The one thing I realized growing up is that if you keep yourself separate and do exactly what you're supposed to do and, “You be a good nigger boy and a good nigger girl,” that life actually wasn't so bad.




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