Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #31: De La

“De La [Beckwith]’s arrest came after Thorn McIntyre of Itta Bena saw a picture of the gun which killed Evers in the paper. The gun had been left at the scene of the murder. McIntyre notified authorities that he had sold the gun to Beckwith, who had an extensive gun collection. Later McIntyre received numerous threats and his home near Itta Bena had to be guarded.

“De La was tried twice in Jackson for the murder with both trials ending in mistrials. I always thought he wanted you to believe he had killed Evers, and there was no doubt in my mind that he had. He hated Negroes and did not mind saying so. On the day of the Freedom March a year or so later we met De La going into the Police Station with a wild look in his eyes. He had on big yellow sun glasses, and when Russell asked if those were his fertilizer selling glasses (he was a fertilizer salesman) he said, ‘No, these are my n—-r hunting glasses.’ Another time when he went to my sister Tiny’s house at Minter City to try to sell some fertilizer to B.J. [Roberson, Tiny’s husband] he told Tiny ‘I’m only killing things I can eat these days.'”

Ed. note: Sara’s memoirs were written in the early 1990s, before Beckwith was put on trial for the 3rd time. He was convicted in that trial and died in prison several years later.

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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