Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir # 55: Unnecessary Losses

“I was in Barrett’s Drugstore on the corner of Howard and Washington streets just a block from the theater one day. Garrard Barrett, the owner, and I were discussing the theater situation and agreeing that the city should try to do something to stop it, but Garrard said he did not dare speak out and that other businessmen felt the same way because he was afraid his store would be boycotted. The only move that ever brought it to a stop was when a group of local industry heads held a meeting in the auditorium at the City Hall and gave the Mayor an ultimatum that they would move their factories out of Greenwood if something was not done to stop it.

“Of course [Mayor Charles] Sampson and [Hardy] Lott and some who agreed with them wanted the theater to close so they could point to it as a victim of integration. It never did recover from the summer of ’64 and finally closed. The city decided to tear it down and put a parking lot there. Many people agreed that it could have been saved. It had been built in 1942 and was a very nice theater with large sepia murals of local scenes in the lobby.”

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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2 Responses to Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir # 55: Unnecessary Losses

  1. Bart Liles says:

    Just an aside…does the fact that the cast from “The Help” won the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Cast mean that Big Steele and Little Steele get recognized for their contribution to the film? I’m a proud cousin!

    • sec040121 says:

      Bart, I would certainly think our cousins should be included in the Cast Award and have SAG statutettes on their mantel! Between this and Kathleen’s appearance on the NPR website and Jenny’s piece in “Garden and Gun,” not to mention the medical miracles you’re pulling off every day, I’d say this generation of the Evans clan is showing its stuff. I’m proud of all of you. 

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