'they're afraid of one day finding out that everything they believe in is a lie.'

Spencer Perkins: Now if my father was the Moses of this army, then Curry was the Joshua— the field general. Curry Brown was an old friend of my father's who had come from California to help in his ministry. Because he was not a local and because his family was not here, he was harder to intimidate.

After organizing us into suitable groups, he and my mother placed us at strategic points up and down Mendenhall's main street. Our purpose was to persuade black not to shop in the stores. To our surprise, it worked better than anyone thought it would. By now the news of our "uprising" had spread throughout the county. Main street was beginning to fill with cars carrying curious onlookers both black and white, eyes wide in disbelief. But not many were shopping. For an idealistic teenager like me, I could see no logical reason why any blacks would "break the boycott" by shopping. But there will always be some for whom the affirmation of the dominant culture outweighs their own personal dignity. We quickly labeled these pitiful scabs, "Uncle Toms".

For most of us, picketing was much more nerveracking than marching. For one, we were divided into smaller groups of only 3 or 4. Secondly, we had to take the verbal abuse from any angry white person that passed by and thirdly, it took a lot longer—each shift was 3 or 4 hours, which meant that we were exposed for longer periods of time. For one of these shifts, Larry "Pop" Smith, one of my high school classmates, and I, drew what everyone thought was the toughest assignment. We were to picket in front of old man Mason's store. Mason, half crazy and crippled, was one of the meanest white men we knew. We were all sure his crippled condition must be a punishment from God. If you were black he treated you like dirt even if you bought something from his store. Earlier that morning, he had attacked Curry with nothing but his bare hands, sneaking a slow motion blow to the back of his head that any 80 year old woman could better

Business was slow this day and we were sure that it was a result of our picketing. The door to his store opened, and two old white men can out. They were both dressed in worn denim overalls. One wore a baseball cap and both had wads of tobacco in their jaws. To our surprise, the one with the baseball cap, struck up a friendly conversation. I don't remember his words, but his tone was nice. The other man just stood and watched without saying a word, occasionally spiting his tobacco juice on the paved sidewalk. Just starring as if he was trying to burn a hole in our armor with his eyes. Then suddenly without warning, he pulled a knife from his pocket and took a swipe at Pop, missing his face by inches. Instinctively, he ducked and grabbed the man's arm, trying to protect himself. Then his friend grabbed hold of the old man and held him until he calmed down. Pop and I backed away slowly, visibly shakened but trying hard not to appear intimidated.. Curry, who patrolled both sides of the street, seemed to appear out of nowhere to offer us support. He could always make us feel important- important enough to continue when we felt like backing down. He spoke directly to us, but we knew that most of what he said was for the old man's benefit. "This sidewalk is public property," he said, with a straight face, his eyes looking only at us. "It is our right to stand here for as long as we wish and nobody's gonna run us away!" For some strange reason, I felt reassurance from him and for that same reason, I could tell the old man felt fear. Later that night, after all the tensions of our first day were over, I asked Curry why the old man had attacked us. "He attacked you because he was afraid," he said. "Afraid of what?" I asked, somewhat puzzled because surely no white man would be afraid of us. "Not afraid of you" he said, right in the middle of a long yawn, "they're afraid of one day finding out that everything they believe in is a lie."