This was to be our first day; the first day of a nightmare filled with physical and emotional cruelty...

Spencer Perkins: In 1967 Mississippi finally decided to comply with the nation's 13 year old desegregation laws but in their own "sovereign" way. Their way had always been, up until know, known as "separate but equal". Now, because of more mounting pressure, they decided to go a step further. This new step was called "Freedom of Choice". This meant that anyone in their particular town could attend any school of their choosing. Of course, now the whites were allowed to attend the all black schools on the other side of the tracks and the blacks could enroll in the white schools. Right? Wrong. This was only a policital move made by the Mississippi authorities to ease the growing pressure. Everyone knew full well that this would not desegregate the Mississippi School system. No whites had any desire to go to school with blacks and few blacks were willing to risk lives and livelihood to push this point. (At that time, almost all blacks' income and livelihood were controlled by whites.)

Be strong and of good courage, be not afraid... be not afraid...for the Lord thy God is with thee... God is with thee, whither so ever thou goeth. Over and over I repeated these words in my head as we made the short ride across the tracks, out of our all black neighborhood, into the white part of town and eventually to the all white school. This was to be our first day; the first day of a nightmare filled with physical and emotional cruelty; a nightmare that left emotional scars on all 10 members of my family; a nightmare that would leave some of us cold and unforgiving; a nightmare that only after 10 years did I talk about even with my closest friends. This family nightmare was a result of my father's decision to send all 5 of his school age children to Mendenhall's all white school-- my father's response to Mississippi's "Freedom of Choice."