Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #11: On the Map

“By the next day some 55 newsmen, including a reporter from the British Broadcasting Company, had arrived in Greenwood to cover the story. They were asked to register at the police station, which they did. All of the television networks sent in their top newsmen as did newspapers from throughout the country, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other major papers. All of the top magazines were also represented, including Newsweek, Time and Life, and it was inconceivable to local people that one small march involving mostly outsiders could have invoked such a widespread response.

“Perhaps it was the picture of the policeman, Switzer, and his dog which went out all over the country from our kitchen floor that helped to bring them in or maybe it was just because the civil rights struggle was just beginning to gather steam. Anyway, Greenwood was on the map, and it remained there throughout the coming years as one of the focal points of the civil rights movement.

“There were daily meetings at the Negro churches, attended by all of the newsmen along with the activists. Finally the mayor issued an ultimatum that no whites except newsmen and law enforcement would be allowed in the churches in order to try to avoid any trouble. The demonstrators would set up a time that they planned to have a march on the Court House, and then the next morning the television crews would arrive earlier and have the cameras already set up when they arrived. Many of those marching to the Court House were not even eligible to register to vote, either because of age or the fact that they were not residents of the county. At that time the minimum voting age was 21.”

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About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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