The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.
Eric Reed was the first black quarterback at his elementary, middle, and high school when the Baton Rouge public schools were being integrated.
Epithets were used against him more than once.
Reed’s junior year at predominantly white Istrouma High School, 1974, was a turning point. The night after a race riot at the school, the football team played the last game of the regular season against all-black McKinley.
“Anytime Istrouma played McKinley, I happened to be the target of a lot of trash talk, because I’m the one who didn’t go to McKinley or Capitol, I chose to go to Istrouma, so I was -- the term they used back then -- the ‘oreo’, you know, I sold out.”
Both teams needed the win to get to the playoffs, but Reed says he didn’t have the usual fire in his belly. Istrouma lost 7 to 6.