I sat on the floor of your basic living room, facing an older, white-hair woman. She was born, raised, and still lives in Arkansas. During the desegregation of Little Rock Central High, she was twenty years old and had just recently moved to Little Rock to work down town. Here, this woman and I sat and discussed the issue of various civil rights events that she may have experienced through out her past. One of the stories she best remembered about the civil rights era happened in 1957 during the first year that Arkansas Public Schools began to desegregate. She remembered it all starting with sit-ins at the Woolworth’s 5-10 Cent Store lunch counters. African Americans were not allowed to eat at the Woolworth’s lunch counters. In protest, they all gathered there and refused to leave. They used these sit-ins to test the rules. They wanted to find out just how far they could go. After this event took place, desegregation began to spread all across the U.S.
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We were in Mrs. Mayes’s house on a fall afternoon. She had her windows opened so there was a slight breeze in the house. I was sitting across from her in her living room. Right before our interview she had begun to cook dinner and so there was still a tasty smell in the air.