Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #29: Walking the Tightrope

“In covering the civil rights story I was torn between trying to do the best possible job I could of reporting the facts and at the same time trying to protect Greenwood from all the bad publicity. There were a number of times when if I had not been so personally involved I would have written my stories differently. I knew I had to live her and face people, many of whom felt that there should be nothing at all in the papers or on the news about what was going on. It did not help that the local paper was not taking a stand or writing editorials about it.

“During those days Greenwood made the national news nearly every night, and we had such top reporters here as Richard Valariani, John Chancellor, Nelson Benton, John Hart, Nicholas Von Hoffman and Charles Murphy among others.

“After the turbulent spring, calm settled over our town, but we knew it was to be shortlived. Increasing numbers of Negroes were going to the Court House each day to register to vote. Negro leaders were becoming more vocal, and one of them, Medgar Evers of Jackson, state field secretary of the NAACP, was speaking out quite freely. I first encountered Evers in March or April at one of the City Court hearings for civil rights demonstrators. He was not loud or offensive and appeared to be intelligent. He was nicely dressed.”

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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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