Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #36: Welcoming Trouble Back Home

“During De La [Beckwith]’s trial District Attorney Bill Waller, later Governor, read a letter written by De La on April 16, 1957, which read: ‘When I die I’ll be buried in a segregated cemetery. When you get to heaven you’ll find me in the part that has a sign saying “for white only” and if I go to Hades I’m going to raise hell all over Hades til I get in the white section.’

“When he arrived in Greenwood after the first trial he arrived at the parking lot of the Court House and I interviewed him. When he entered the Court House well-wishers rushed up to him and greeted him. His bond of $10,000 was paid by a number of local residents including [names redacted] acting for his attorneys Hardy Lott and Stanny Sanders, who appeared at the sheriff’s office with the bond.

“De La said when he passed through Tchula south of Greenwood there was a sign saying ‘Welcome home De La’ and when he got to the outskirts of Greenwood there was another one. He said it brought tears to his eyes. Of course, it just happened that [name redacted], one of the local Kluxers, and a strong supporter of De La, was a sign painter.”

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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1 Response to Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #36: Welcoming Trouble Back Home

  1. Jenny adams says:

    that last line really made me miss her. Too funny.

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