“I put the screen down, took a seat, and the streetcar became hostile.”
Jerome Smith tells his friend Carol Bebelle about an incident from his childhood.
Click here for the transcript.
JS: My father was on the street car here, and he took the screen down that separated the blacks from the whites, put it in the middle of the floor. Some months later I did the same thing, and I uh put the screen down, took a seat, and the street car became very hostile. And an old black woman came from the back and slapped me aside my head, felt like there was a bell ringing in my head, and she said, 'I'm gonna fix him for disrespecting these white folks you should never do that, disrespect white people you have no business trying to sit with them.' And she told them 'I'm 'a take him home' an she pushed me down as I was trying to get off the street car and she came behind me and she took me behind a auto store on St. Bernard and St. Claude. And this was the moment, this was the moment that make me stand like I stand today. She told me never ever stop. She started crying. She hugged me and said 'I'm proud of you, don't you ever quit.' And even though I didn't know the words 'Civil Right' then that, that opened up the door.