More laughter. Zammie felt his pulse beginning to race and his breath shorten. He looked at Anne and Memphis expecting them to make a move to shut the younger boys up, imobiliare bucuresti but they sat quietly at the table. They didn’t even turn around. They kept their backs to the boys and continued to face the counter. I’m talkin’ to you, niggers! yelled the boy again, this time with more venom in his voice. Turn aroun’ an’ look at me when I talk to you!
He noticed Kyla staring at him. What’re you lookin’ at? What are you? Some sort a Mexican? They Chinese, Dell, cackled another boy. Chinese chinks! Laughter erupted again. Turn around, Kyla, whispered Zammie. Just ignore them and they’ll go away. Yes, Kyla, just ignore them, whispered Anne. More high school boys began to enter the store along with the rest of the regular lunch crowd. Zammie was impressed imobiliare bucuresti with the way Anne, Pearlena, and Memphis were able to keep their focus straight ahead.
They did not look at the crowd at all except for occasional glances. I suggest we pray now, Memphis told his classmates. The three students bowed their heads and immediately one of the adult men who had entered the store ran up and pushed Memphis out of his swivel seat. Memphis grasped out for the counter to keep from completely falling onto the floor. Another man ran over to Memphis and kicked him, sending him down to the ground. As Memphis tried to protect his face, the man who had imobiliare bucuresti pushed him down continued to kick him in the head and ribs. Please leave him be, mister! said Anne.
He did you no wrong. Shut up, nigger! The man took a break from kicking Memphis in the head so he could smack Anne across the face with the back of his hand. Thwack! Hey! yelled Zammie. He had been doing his best to control his temper, but seeing a grown man slap a woman with such hatred stirred something violent within himself. You leave her alone! Shut up, chink! yelled the man. Why don’t you get the hell outta here! Suddenly one of the other male employees of the Woolworth’s imobiliare bucuresti ran up to Anne, grabbed her by her shoulders, and threw her against the counter. She fell to the ground with a grimace.
Kyla was in shock. Zammie, why are they doing this? Make them stop! Zammie jumped out of his seat and helped Anne back to her feet. You okay, Memphis? asked Pearlena. She was trying to help him back up to his seat. Blood was running from the corners of his mouth.
Alright, boys, police! That’s enough! Yet another man dressed in street clothes stepped in showing a badge and claiming to be an officer. They were attacking that man, officer, said Kyla. She was standing up from her chair now. She and Zammie were both relieved to see some sense of order taking place. Anne and Pearlena knew better.
We got this under control, little missy, said the officer. Two more officers in plain clothes stepped through the gathered crowd and slapped handcuffs on both Memphis and his attacker. We’ll be back for you in a minute. The officer glared at Anne and Pearlena. Both Memphis and his attacker were hauled out of the store in cuffs.
You two need to leave now. Zammie looked over to see a baby-faced white man probably in his mid-twenties talking to Anne and Pearlena. This is getting out of hand. Yeah, get them coons outta here! came a yell from the crowd. Get ‘em outta here, nigger-lover! The baby-faced man ignored the yells. I think you should stay, said another young white woman. She looked even younger than Pearlena and she sat right down in Memphis’ vacated chair.
Do I know you, ma’am? asked Anne. My name is Joan. And I’m staying with you. She had red hair, pale skin, and green eyes brimming with intensity. When she said she’d stay no one doubted her, but the baby-faced man had already left. Anne turned around to her left and looked at Kyla and Zammie. You two have done more than enough. You shouldn’t stay here any longer. I’m staying, said Kyla without hesitation.
She looked at Zammie. Zammie nodded. We’re staying. But if they attack you again then I think we should fight back. No, Zammie. No fighting, said Anne. This is a non-violent protest. Peaceful disobedience. Zammie couldn’t believe his ears. Peaceful? You’ve been slapped and shoved. Your friend Memphis was kicked in the face. I understand that, Zammie. But if we retaliate then we ain’t imobiliare bucuresti no better than them. We will maintain our moral authority no matter the cost. Even if they kill you? She looked Zammie straight in the eyes. Even if they kill us.
Zammie was confused. It didn’t make sense to him. How could self-defense be a bad thing? He then heard the crowd chanting, Communists! Communists! Communists! Take ‘em off those stools before they stain ‘em! yelled out another old man. Get ‘em outta the store! Which one should we get first, pops? one chubby boy asked. He was grinning from ear to ear and had puffy pink cheeks. Get that white nigger, the old man answered.
He was pointing straight at Joan. The husky boy picked Joan up by her waist, threw her over his shoulder, and carried her out the front door. Anne was next. Get outta here, coons! yelled one of the young men standing behind her. She was grabbed by two boys and dropped in the floor.
Then she was dragged by her hair across the floor towards the door. She was in obvious pain, and although she had warned him not to do so, Zammie couldn’t help but give in to his emotional response. Let her go! Zammie ran full throttle into one of the boys knocking him to the ground. The other boy let go of Anne’s hair and as she was getting up off the floor Joan came walking quickly back inside.
She had wrestled her way out the fat boy’s grip somehow. She probably gave him a bag of M&M’s, thought Kyla. She was on her way to help Zammie when Joan stood in her way. Let Anne bring him back, she told Kyla. You can’t attack them. It will defeat the entire purpose of what we’re doing here. What do you mean? asked Kyla. She saw Anne leading Zammie back over towards the counter. The high school boy he had bowled over was standing back up and yelling at Zammie, calling him all sorts of vile names.
If you want to help us, Joan continued, then just sit at the counter. That’s all. Kyla was confused, but she wanted to help. If that’s all they planned on doing then she would comply. Okay. She stepped back to her imobiliare bucuresti chair and sat down while Anne and Zammie returned to their seats. Poor Pearlena had been sitting alone for those few moments until another white woman named Lois Chaffee pushed her way through the crowd and sat next to her.
One of the Woolworth employees had tied a rope across the back of the chairs in an attempt to keep anyone else from sitting at the counter. Anne and Joan just pulled the yellow nylon rope down and climbed across to return to their seats.
Zammie’s emotions were still running high, but he paused for a moment to look at the four young women sitting at the counter, two white and two black, their backs to an angry mob of incensed locals throwing every ugly racial slur at them they could come up with. It took a lot of courage to do what they were doing. This imobiliare bucuresti was no simple hazing. Memphis’ blood could still be seen on the floor. The mob continued to grow louder and more aggressive. More young men were arriving from the pool hall just up the street.
One man smoking a cigarette and wearing sun glasses for some reason started pouring a small jar of ketchup over Pearlena’s head. The crowd erupted in laughter. Kyla and Zammie couldn’t believe it, but Pearlena didn’t react. She remained stoic and peaceful as the red ketchup dripped through her hair and fell onto the counter.
More of the high school boys took this as a cue to join in the mob behavior. Mustard, syrup, fruit pies, and everything else within grabbing distance was quickly being poured over or smeared on the sitting protesters. Some hurled raw eggs and some sprayed bug repellant. One boy poured hot coffee down Pearlena’s back while another put out a cigarette on Joan’s. A vanilla milkshake was dumped over Anne’s head.
Now look at ya, said one of the laughing boys with greased hair. He was looking at Anne after he had poured a sack of flour over her head. She almost look white, don’t she! The powder covered her face and began to mix with the maple syrup, milkshake, and blueberry pie filling that had already been tossed on her. I told imobiliare bucuresti you this would get bad. The baby-faced white man from before had returned. His name was John Salter, and he was also a faculty member at Tougaloo College.
Where did you go? asked Anne. I went to talk to Pastor King, answered John. I was trying to get more help for you from school— Before John could finish his sentence he was clocked across the jaw by a man wearing brass knuckles on his fist.
John! cried Anne. John went dazed for a moment. Blood began to stream from the open wound along his jawline. Stupid coon-lover! The imobiliare bucuresti man who punched John unscrewed a salt shaker and tossed its contents in John’s face. The thought of that much salt going into an open wound made Kyla shiver. Another one of the high school boys walked up to Pearlena and began spray painting her hair and her clothes with red paint.
This’ll make you pretty! The crowd roared with laughter. This is ridiculous, said Zammie. I’ve had enough. What’re you gonna do? asked Kyla. We’re supposed to just sit here. She noticed that his fingers were trembling.