Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #44: Freedom Schools

“The students, black and white, poured into Greenwood and fanned out all over the Delta to conduct Freedom Schools, teaching reading and writing, and assist Negroes in registering to vote. They came from prestigious schools such as Harvard and Yale, Sarah Lawrence and Vassar, and many were from wealthy families. Many were sloppy in their dress and some were outright dirty.

“They set up schools in Negro churches, and many of the local Negroes were wary of their being in their neighborhoods and refused to have anything to do with them. Bill Street with the Commercial Appeal and I spent one day going around to some of the Freedom Schools and observing them and talking to them. Most of them looked as if they had not had a bath or washed their hair in a month. When we got back to the house for lunch the first thing we did was give our hands a good scrubbing. It was quite an experience.”

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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