Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #79: The Boycott Continues

“On June 5 [1968] sixty-one merchants asked Chancery Judge William Bizzell for an injunction against twelve individuals, the ‘Greenwood Movement,’ and all those acting in concert with them. I attended a hearing on the matter which began on June 12 and lasted several more days. The complainants called 39 witnesses and the defendants six. Witnesses included 12 white store owners or managers, one Chinese store owner, two Negro employees of complainant merchants, two white doctors, two white postmen, nine Negro citizens who testified as to experiences in connection with shopping or attempts to shop, six named defendants and several others. One of the defendants was Father Nathaniel Machesky.

“The boycott ended finally after Judge Bizzell in July ruled that a temporary injunction was being issued against picketing or marching in this cause in the areas affected and against persons stationing themselves or anyone else as a lookout for the purpose of observing customers doing business with any of the merchants.

“The hearing lasted four days. After listening to all the testimony it was evident that the Movement did not have the support of most of the blacks who said that they were afraid of those taking part in it. I was in Gibson’s Discount Store one day and saw an old Negro man who was checking out and trying to see if anyone was waiting outside. The boycott also affected the white customers, who did not want to have to get through the picket lines to go in a store. Some of those picketing and carrying signs were school kids.

“The merchants lost a lot of money and were bitter that half of the demands being made were not things over which they had any control. The members who attended the local Catholic church, some of whom were affected merchants, were very bitter toward the priests and others from St. Francis taking part in the boycott and picketing.”

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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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One Response to Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #79: The Boycott Continues

  1. Nancy Webb Phillips says:

    I clearly remember our Help- Lucille- telling my mom that she had a dress on lay-away at Gibsons. It was for an iimportant event for her daughter. She had been paying on it for months. She was scared to go to Gibsons and get it out because of the junk going on in front of the store. She gave my mom the money for it, and my mom went in there and got it for her.
    Also- I used to wonder why so many people in this town had ill feelings for the nuns and folks at St. Francis. Now I know.
    This blog has really filled in some gaps for me. Thank you for sharing it!

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