Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #72: Snaking down the Highway

“Another tense period came during the Freedom March in 1966. The Freedom March developed after James Meredith began a march from the northern state line to Jackson which was pretty widely publicized. After he had gone a short distance he was wounded by a shotgun blast. Thus the march, which was not drawing much attention, was accelerated with calls for persons to come from everywhere to take part in the march to the state capitol. And come they did, an assortment of whites and blacks of all ages marching down Highway 51 with extensive news coverage.

“There were incidents along the way including an episode in Grenada when Negroes climbed the Confederate Monument and spit on the statues. This happened the night before they were expected to arrive in Greenwood. All of the national news media was back in Greenwood as they approached the city. The newsmen had rented a flat-bed truck and had all their equipment and cameras on the truck which was traveling just ahead of the march so that they could focus their cameras on it. Charles Murphy with NBC and I were talking about the events at the Police Station, and he asked if I would like to ride on the truck with them the next morning as they approached Greenwood. I would have loved to have been able to but would not have dared. It was a good thing I let my better judgement rule because after the truck loaded with the news crews left Greenwood the day the marchers were to arrive, someone opened an ice chest on the truck and found a rattlesnake inside. I would probably have died right on the spot. There was a rumor that the fellow they hired to drive the truck was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

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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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