Every time someone would accidently bump into me in the halls, they would brush themselves off as if to remove the germs. No one ever talked to me, unless it was to insult me or to make fun of me.

Spencer Perkins: My homeroom teacher, who was about as good as white Mississippians could be in 1967, spent the first 15 minutes trying, in vain, to answer the questions of 35 white eighth grade boys. "Do you mean that we really have to go to school with a nigger? We have to be in the same class with him? If God wanted us to mix, why did He make us white and him black? They can make me go to school with a nigger, but they can't make me like him. They can make me go to school with him, but they can't make me sit by him." From that day, for the next 2 school years, there was always an empty seat on both sides of me. Everytime someone would accidently bump into me in the halls, they would brush themselves off as if to remove the germs. No one ever talked to me, unless it was to insult me or to make fun of me. For 2 years I was the repulsive creature that the girls would refer to when attempting to insult a classmate: "You like Jimmy" one would say, but the best one-ups-manship response would always be, "well, you like Spencer." Then they would both shiver and make faces indicating the ultimate grossout. Anything that passed through my hands such as money or homework papers, was never touched by any of my classmates directly, especially the girls. I was considered unclean. The teachers, though more mature and sophiscated, felt no different than the kids and were reluctant to object to the kids' relentless harrassment.

Some of the kids really did believe that somehow, because I was black, I was unclean but there were also some who knew better. I could see it in their eyes. They were the ones who stood around and watched-watched the cruelty and injustice that went on but would not dare lift a finger to stop it. These onlookers were no different than the people throughout history who stood around and watched mob violence, lynchings and rapes. No different than the churchmen in Nazi Germany who watched and prayed while Hitler slaughtered millions of Jews. I dare say that they were no different than the people around the world today who watch a racist white minority in South Africa violently oppress a black majority. This "silent majority" will one day find it very difficult and extremely uncomfortable explaining to a just God why they kept their silence.