Cheryl McAfee: Being a little kid, I didn't have fear of people. I didn't know I was segregated. But my uncle on my mother's side — they called him Doc Sims, but he was Hugh Sims — the school board voted him president of the school board. So he was the first African American to be elected in the 1960s, right after Brown v. Board. And one of the things that he felt was important in terms of education — which education was important to my entire family — I was charged with integrating the schools. I will just say that there was a big difference in the treatment that I received in integrating those schools. And it was, uh, kind of bittersweet. Certain people didn't necessarily want me there, particularly the teachers. On the other hand, my uncle was the president of school board, so it wasn't like I wasn't going to be accepted there. Things happened at that school where I came from. At one school, I was like the teacher's pet. I was one of the —

Kiplyn Primus: Could do no wrong. The smart girl,.

Cheryl McAfee: I could do no wrong. I was one of the smart girls and everybody's friend. And I loved it. And I felt, you know, you were special. And then I went to a different school where although I knew that I was smart, I had teachers marking up my papers when I knew that my information was right. I mean, I knew that I knew. I recall a spelling bee was one of the first — it was a competition. I said "no, I'm participating in the spelling bee." And I spelled all these right. And then it became down to me and this one young lady. The teacher asked me to spell "architect." I knew that one, and she thought she was going to catch me off guard but my dad taught me how to spell architect. I spelled it and she told me I was wrong. Told me to sit down and then gave the other girl a different one, and I was like, that's not fair. I said, "No, you're supposed to ask her the same one so I want to know what she says." And then I was told to — I had to sit outside.

Kiplyn Primus: Do you think it was worth it to integrate the schools, to go through what you went through?

Cheryl McAfee: Sometimes I say "yes" and sometimes I say "no." Because I watched my self-esteem and self-worth diminish because that was what they intended and — was to diminish you. And so when you have the leadership, particularly the teachers' leadership, not wanting you to be there. So if the teacher doesn't want you there, the students aren't going to want you there. And so it's a little lonely. I think in the long run, there's a sacrifice that you make. You know, you noticed, that the books were different, in that they were prettier.

Kiplyn Primus: And new.

Cheryl McAfee: And new. However, I did not see that the teachers were more intelligent than the teachers I had at the other school. We didn't realize the wealth and the richness that we had, even if we had tattered books.

This story was produced locally for GPB by Chase McGee and recorded in partnership with StoryCorps Atlanta.