Interviewer: Amanda Myers
Interviewee: Margaret Presley
This interview was at Ms. Presley’s house in her living room. The living room was a fairly casual space; there were two armchairs and a sofa in the room. She was wearing a red robe and looked comfortable and happy to see my partner, Jessica Lin, and me. She didn’t go into any stories from the questions we asked her. During the interview she was quiet, almost as if she was intimidated by being interviewed and recorded. One thing that particularly stuck in my mind after the interview was her talking about how her parents had brought her up to believe in integration. Her parents had a huge influence on the decisions she made in her lifetime, and it showed in the decisions she made.
During the interview, Ms. Presley was talking no only about herself, but also about her family and friends. She grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She was a senior in the local high school when Central high was integrated. Most of the questions asked were about how she was brought up and what she thought of integration. Thankfully, she felt sorry for people of other races and treated them kindly. Although sometimes she had a little trouble remembering what happened, she was able to give Jessica and me a pretty good idea of her experiences involving intergration.
One thing she said in the interview was her parents taught her about people being different but equal. People may look different on the outside, but on the inside, we are all equal. That’s how she treated everyone in her life, equally. She also said that because she didn’t live in Little Rock, she wasn’t exposed to the harsh realities of integration that many people were exposed to. She almost secluded, but she did have some friends who lived in Little Rock at the time. those friends and the newspaper kept her up to date with the rest of the world.
During the interview, as I said before, Ms. Presley was somewhat stiff and only answered the questions we asked her. Her eyes were downcast and she looked at the floor during the interview. She also seemed a little sad while she talked about her childhood. Every so pften, she would smile and relax a little. Even though she was sheltered from most of the pain of integration by living in Pine Bluff, she could remember how she felt and what happened clearly.
She told Jessica and me about her teenage years during integration because it was a painful time for her and those around her. These stories need to be passed on, so we don’t have to experience the pain and go through what the world went trough because we misunderstand the past. She also wanted to show us how much our parents influence the decisions we make now and will make later on in our lives. If our parents teach us well, our decisions will be good and help us advance in life. We must believe what we’ve been taught, but we must also form our own opinions from what we believe. That is why Ms. Presley told us about her past experiences, so we can learn from our mistakes and advance in life.
Ms. Presley was lucky enough to have parents that taught her integration was a good thing, and that she should believe in it. She treated people of other races kindly during a time when inegration was everywhere. Even when basic civil rights didn’t include other raced she treated everyone kindly and with respect. Because of this, i think that she can be considered a hero for following her beliefs and doing the right then when others didn’t.