Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #24: Editorializing

“An editorial in the April 4, 1963 Commercial Appeal stated: ‘Both of Mississippi’s senators have publicly branded the leaders of “voter registration marches” in Greenwood as outside agitators. Senator James Eastland, commenting on a Justice Department attempt to obtain a court injunction which would have prevented Greenwood police from breaking up mass marches, charged the Federal Government with unjustly condemning local authorities from maintaining law and order.’ Another paragraph from the editorial read: ‘Both sides in the touchy Greenwood situation have been urged to restrain themselves, and those in authority appear to have done so. The agitators and their followers have not. They seem to be hoping for a violent response from the community which could trigger Federal interference. So far the agitators have succeeded only in seeking Justice Department intervention through the courts, and they have not succeeded. And, as Senator Stennis observes, the Justice Department “should stop its well-known practice of filing suits right and left” simply because a minority group makes allegations “unsupported by the proof and contrary to the facts.’

“A telegram dated April 4 from Mississippi Congressmen John Bell Williams and Arthur Winstead to Mayor Sampson read: ‘Thank you for your letter of April 3 and the enclosed comprehensive statement regarding the horrible situation in your city aggravated by professional agitators and the Kennedy administration. As dean, and on behalf of the Mississippi delegation, Congressman William M. Colmer today read your statement on the floor of the House of Representatives. During these trying times you and the citizens of Leflore County have assurance of our complete cooperation in any endeavor to rid your community of the pests presently inflicted upon you. Kindest regards.’

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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