Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #82: Schools in the Crossfire

“Of all the disturbing incidents which occurred during the troublesome ’60s, none affected us so personally as school integration, which began in the fall of 1966. Since 1954 we had known that it would happen someday, but I guess we kept hoping it would not come until ours had finished school.

“An article in the newspaper on September 6 stated that seven Negro girls had made application to register for classes at Greenwood High School. Plans for operation of the Greenwood schools on a desegregated basis were released. It was stated that the [Greenwood Public School] board had been ordered to end the operation of separate schools for the Negro and white children with respect to the first, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades for the school year beginning September 1966 and with respect to all grades for the school year beginning in 1967. The plan also required that an adequate start be made toward elimination of race as a basis for the employment and allocation of teachers, administrators and other personnel.

“Since this was a ‘freedom of choice’ plan in which a student could transfer from a school they had previously been assigned to one in which they had been excluded in the past, we did not expect any widescale integration at this point. Three black girls registered to enter the senior class at Greenwood High School. They were Mayrene Washington, Willie Mae Lobe and Queen Edna Holmes.”

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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