Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #68: Unforeseen Consequences

“One of the complications which arose from the addition of thousands of illiterates to the voting rolls was the time required to select a competent jury. Many who were called for jury duty had to be excused because they could not read or write. Others who claimed they could admitted that their ability to understand what they have read was limited. At one trial a juror was asked to read a short item from a newspaper about the election of a state legislator. When asked to interpret what she had read, she answered ‘It means when you serve on a jury you don’t discuss it with nobody.’

“At the time the Voting Rights Act was passed, a person had to be 21 to vote. Later when this was amended to 18, problems arose in local county elections because it was ruled that college students could vote in the locality where they were attending school, regardless of where their home was. Students were brought in from Mississippi Valley, a black college at Itta Bena, by the busload to register and vote. Thus they could control the vote in the district in which the college was located. Students from as far away as Illinois and California were voting in local elections.”

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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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