Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #88: Shooting the Messenger

“On January 27, a group of jeering students at the all-Negro Threadgill High School attempted to block the exit of Dr. W.B.Dribben, superintendent of Greenwood Schools, and Assistant Superintendent W.O.Benjamin as they left a meeting called by members of the junior and senior class, all of whom had been ordered to attend predominantly white Greenwood High School. A short time later a fire was apparently set in a storeroom at the school, but it was quickly extinguished. The school officials were frequently jeered and shouted down as they attempted to explain the Federal court orders for Greenwood schools and asked for the students’ cooperation in making the changeover. Threadgill principal Wisdom Coleman and several other teachers tried to quiet the students, as did a counselor. When Dr. Dribben told the students they would not be allowed to act in the same discourteous manner at Greenwood High School, they began shouting and followed the two administrators to their automobile, demanding an apology.

“The school board issued a statement on discipline of students, stating that ‘any student who starts a disturbance or participates in one will be suspended from school immediately and will be able to re-enter only after satisfactory assurance has been given in writing to the principal by the pupil and his parents or guardians that there will not be a recurrence of this sort of behavior.'”

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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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