MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) – A group of five- and six-year-old African-American kids known as the Memphis thirteen changed Memphis City Schools forever when they integrated Bruce, Rozelle, Gordon and Springdale Elementary schools 50-years ago.
"I was scared to death," said Harry Williams.
Williams told abc24.com he made it through that day at Bruce Elementary because his mother kept telling him everything was going to be alright. At Gordon Elementary everything wasn't alright for then 6-year-old Pamela Mayes.
"It was kind of scary,” Mayes told abc24.com.
Mayes recalled her time in the classroom as painful.
“My teacher was the worst," said Mayes.
Mayes remembers times when her teacher wouldn't let her leave to use the restroom.
"So I had to use the restroom right there," Mayes told abc24.com.
At Bruce 5-year-old Dwania Kyles and Harry Williams took care of each other.
“It was tough," said Kyles.
Kyles is the daughter of Civil Rights leader, Reverend Billy Kyles. She told abc24.com she tried to block out the mean things said to her.
"I don't remember the vile things and I think that was really good because my father said some of the things the policeman were saying, they were so vile that as an adult man they put him on edge," Kyles told abc24.com.
Everyone was on edge at Gordon Elementary too, including Sheila Conway. Conway found a way to deal with a white classmate who kept calling her names.
"He got ready to call me a N---- and before he could get it out I hit him in the mouth," said Conway.
Despite the trials and tribulations they endured, they're all glad they did.
"Barriers had to be broken down and somebody's gotta do it,” said Kyles.