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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Daisy Bates, October 11, 1976. Interview G-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Black student retaliates against white harassment

In this excerpt, Bates remembers that black students in formerly all-white environments developed strategies to deal with harassment. She describes one incident where a black student spilled chili on a white boy who was harassing her. She was expelled but Bates arranged to enroll her at a school in New York.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Daisy Bates, October 11, 1976. Interview G-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
But that harrassment continued all the time.
DAISY BATES:
All during this period, all during this period.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Just every day there was something, wasn't there?
DAISY BATES:
Mm-hm, something. They would pick on the vulnerable ones, like Minnie [Minnijean Brown, one of the Nine]. They knew Minnie had a temper. unknown They were trying to get them, one by one. So Minnie came in that afternoon, and she unknown and the kids all came in.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
That day she had been expelled?
DAISY BATES:
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Uh-huh.
DAISY BATES:
And I said, "And so what's the matter now? What happened? What happened?" "You tell her." "No, you tell her."
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs)
DAISY BATES:
So Jeff said that unknown "Minnie hit a boy on the head today with some chili." (Laughs)
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs)
DAISY BATES:
We were practicing non-violence, and we'd meet here every day unknown I said, "Well, Minnie, what happened?" She said she got up, and she went between the tables as she went to the counter to get the chili; and she was going up between the tables when the boy pushed his chair back to block her. And when she came back unknown boy, and he pushed his chair back. So she was standing there. She said unknown "Will you please move your chair in so I can pass?" So he went, "Oh!" you know, pretending he didn't know she was there. So he got on down to about the fifth boy that did this, and Minnie was mad. (Laughs) So she had this chili. And when he pushed his chair back, unknown that came down on his head. (Laughs)
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Oh, boy.
DAISY BATES:
The chili went all over the boy (laughs) , and of course they expelled Minnie.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Yeah, and not the boy.
DAISY BATES:
Not the boy. So Thurgood was here that day unknown I said, "What are they going to try? unknown I said, "They're going to try to get them out one by one." So I knew a person in New York. So I called, and I said, "Will you take Minnie?" unknown I said, "Can you get Minnie in The New School there at New York?"
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Now who did you call? What's his name, Dr. Kenneth Clark?
DAISY BATES:
Clark. Yeah, Kenneth Clark. So I asked, "Can you take Minnie in the New School?" He said, "Yes." This was about this time of day. So then Thurgood said, "She's got to have some clothes. There's cold days up there in New York." So he gave me some money for me to buy the clothes. All the money he had in his pocket he gave me, all of it. unknown . So a lady that lived out in the Heights had a store. And I don't know that lady's name, unknown but anyway she had a store, and she was going out of business. She had a daughter about Minnie's age, and she was about third year of college, I believe.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Was it Mrs. Kress?
DAISY BATES:
Probably so. I couldn't say it was and I couldn't say it wasn't, 'cause I can't remember her name. But anyway, she called us, and she told Minnie if she was going to New York that she would bring some luggage out here and bring some clothing. Each year her daughter unknown would take a new wardrobe back; she'd leave the old one home. She gave her a coat and some new unknown sweaters and skirts.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Now did that surprise you?
DAISY BATES:
That surely did.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Yeah. You just didn't realize there were people up there in the Heights who . . .
DAISY BATES:
Right. So meanwhile, unknown then I called Roy and told him Kenneth Clark had agreed to take Minnie and put her in the New School.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
And she was going to live in his home, wasn't she?
DAISY BATES:
Yes. She was going to stay with him. So in the meantime Roy said, "Well, are you not coming?" I said, "No, I can't leave my other kids." So I sent her mother with her. I said, "We'll unknown need the money." He said, "I'll wire it." Because her mother didn't have any money. So he wired their fare.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Roy Wilkins. [executive director, NAACP]
DAISY BATES:
Roy Wilkins. And the next afternoon we put them on the plane. The next day we had all these clothes; this lady gave them shoes, socks, and everything.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Minnie probably thought that was the greatest thing that ever happened.
DAISY BATES:
Ohh. (Laughs)
DAISY BATES:
She deserved it; we were happy. And her mother went with her. So Kenneth Clark met them at the airport and a unknown delegation he'd brought with him. And they took her on out to Hastings-on-Hudson, and Mamie—that's Kenneth's wife—and so they had two teenage children so Minnie became a part of their family. unknown And so she went to school in New York. unknown Then she came down to Southern Illinois University.