Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #80: Affront to Liberty

“The St. Francis Mission is entirely separate from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, and most of those at the mission had come to Greenwood from other parts of the country. They played an active role in all the civil rights activities and published a weekly newspaper, The Center Light, which was sold on the downtown streets and which often attacked local officials. It carried news of the black community.

“One of those involved in the Greenwood Movement was a crippled black man named James Moore, who did not work but was on disability. He decided that his main target would be the Liberty Cash Grocery, owned and operated by a friend of ours, Sam Killebrew. The store was one of Greenwood’s better grocery stores with a large white trade as well as a good black trade. Moore stood near the entrance every day for days and kept white folks from wanting to trade there. Sam Killebrew had more black employees than any other tore, so this could not have been the reason for selecting this store. Russell and I got on on the telephone and called all of our friends and asked them to please shop with Liberty.

“After this, the store became more and more of a black store, and Sam sold it  and purchased an interest in the Piggly Wiggly on Park Avenue, but we felt he never got over what happened to a thriving business when he really had done nothing wrong. He died a few years later with cancer. Today [1990] James Moore sits on the City Council, as does another of the leaders of the Movement, David Jordan.”

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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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