Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #85: The Hammer Comes Down

“In August, 1969, the Greenwood School District was ordered to come up with a new plan for further integration. U.S.District Judge W.C.Keady of Greenville approved a compromise plan calling for zoning and the Bankston School was left as it had previously been designated. The plan was ordered to be implemented in early September, but the opening of school was delayed two weeks and the city went back to court seeking relief due to shortage of time in implementing the plan.

“Judge Keady then allowed the city schools to return to the freedom-of-choice method for all elementary schools, grades one through eight, except Bankston, and the zone lines remained there. 178 white students were assigned to a Negro school, Threadgill, but none showed up for classes.

“On January 9 [1970], the Greenwood Separate School District was ordered by the Federal Court of Appeals to submit a new plan for providing total integration effective February 1, with the plan to be submitted by January 15. The Supreme Court ruling on January 14 meant that a new plan would have to be implemented for second semester calling for increased integration in the Greenwood schools. The board was ordered also to implement desegregation of faculty and other staff no later than February 1 according to the local teacher ratio which would be about 50-50 in each school.

“The school officials had been attempting to comply with the August order requiring one out of six teachers of the opposite race, and officials said they had difficulty in getting white teachers to go to the Negro schools even after running repeated advertisements in the area news media.”

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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