Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #49: Circling the Wagons

“It was a very busy time for me because along with all the other trouble, there were almost daily reports of Negro churches being burned and Negro crowds gathering in front of white-owned stores in their section of town and taunting the owners.

“As soon as the Civil Rights Bill was passed the city ordered the municipal pool closed along with the Youth Center and the Library. We had had the best city recreation program in the state with a full-time director, and this signaled the end of all of that. Hundreds of children had learned to swim under Red Cross instruction each summer and closing the pool meant the end of that program. There had been all sorts of instructional programs for children at the Youth Center, such as baton twirling, dancing, exercises, etc. All of this, too, ended. The Library opened three weeks later, but all of the chairs had been taken out so that no one could sit down in there.

“On July 10 the Kiwanis Club announced that they would operate the city pool for members, families and guests as a private club. Hite McLean represented the club and said the city would have no authority over the pool, which would be leased from the city. This venture did not last long as it was too expensive for the club, and the pool finally remained closed. At one point the Junior Auxiliary tried opening the Youth Center as a private endeavor, but this too was not successful.”

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 #49: Circling the Wagons

  1. Nancy Webb Phillips says:

    I remember taking baton twirling lessons in the Youth Center. I hadn’t thought of that in years!!!

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