The realization for a 13 year old black boy, that the highest authority in his daily world would not give him justice, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, which included proud confessions, was a devastating blow to his fragile self worth.

Spencer Perkins: Each day for months, after school, I would compare the days experiences with my brothers and sisters. We concluded that the severity of the cruelty varied according to our age groups but overall, our experiences were very simular. Two of my younger brothers, who had always been good students, would eventually be "flunked" by their third and fouth grade teachers. We tried in vain to explain to my parents exactly how we were treated and what was being said to us each day. But without a hidden tape recorded it was impossible. We were not allowed to "speak that language." My brother, Phillip, finds it very hard to disbelieve the old adage that "There is a little snake in all white people." My mother, to this day, is terrified of any type of police due to the daily harrassment she suffered from them when taking us to and from school. It is very ironic, but not unlike the character of God, that He would one day use my father and his rag-tag family--a family that had suffered much at the hands of white americans, to begin a ministry of racial reconciliation.

One day while the teacher was out of the room, my desk, which was always conspicuously separate from all the others, became the target for anyone who felt they needed practice at propelling wet paper bullets from rubberband pistols. In my own opinion, I had become a model of Dr. King's nonviolent restraint, never striking back even when one of the paper bullets would find its mark and the entire class would cheer with delight. This was a very common occurrence that I had learned to ignore or sometimes even make fun of: "Hope ya'll are having fun" or "glad I can entertain ya'll". Most of the time I would keep a straight face and my mouth shut. This day was a little different. Not because the children did anything different but because the teacher did not ignore it. When he returned to the classroom, the evidence was irrefutable; dozens of paper bullets and rubber bands lined the floor, all in the neighborhood of my desk. For some reason, this time it made him angry. He had me point out all the boys who were involved. This I did with the naive notion that finally justice would be forthcoming. For me, this was to be a major victory; finally my existance in this hell hole would be a little more bearable. They could no longer torture me without there being consequences.

Before we could reach the principal's office, I could see that I was taking this a little more serious than my seven counterparts. The principal, who was also a pastor, was one of the few who I felt empathized with me. I could tell that he truly wanted to correct the situation. His first question to the boys was the big three letter word "WHY?" I will never forget the puzzled look on their faces; a look of bewilderment that wondered how he, being a white man, could ask such a stupid question? What's the big deal, anyway? One of the boy's response to the principal's question, etched a wound in my soul that today, sometimes, still bleeds. His blue eyes twinkling with impatience, he pushed his blonde hair out of his eyes, and said in his immature southern drawl, "he's just a nigger!" The principal was stunned. He didn't know how to respond. I had lost another round. My weak body punch had been countered with a clean right hook that left me dazed and confused. Why did this cut me so deeply? I was called "nigger" several dozen times every day.

It was years before I understood what had happened to me that day. This was racism at its worst. The realization for a 13 year old black boy, that the highest authority in his daily world would not give him justice, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, which included proud confessions from the defendents, was a devastating blow to his fragile self worth. The principal's failure to convince the boys that they had comitted any crime at all, along with his unwillingness to discipline them, painfully dashed my hopes of ever again finding any justice inside a racist institution.