Sara Criss’ Civil Rights Memoir #91: Maroon and White

“There was a lot of bitterness. Those who chose to stay at GHS resented the others leaving the school. Many of those leaving did so only because their parents could not accept the situation. Some left because their buddies were leaving, and in many ways it became a social issue, with some parents feeling that if theirs did not go to Pillow Academy they would be left out of parties and would not be with the ‘right’ crowd. Some of those who went to Pillow made remarks to the others about ‘going to school with the n—rs.’

“It was not easy for the black children either to have to leave their school and come to a white school where they knew they were not wanted. At Threadgill School they had not had to compete with the white students for grades, honors, etc. They had had their own homecoming celebration and had put on some of the best parades we had seen in downtown Greenwood.

“Everything changed in 1970. Sports were soon dominated by blacks as more and more white students dropped basketball and football and track. Attendance at the ball games dropped as fewer and fewer whites attended the games. In previous years the high school games had drawn huge crowds, and before the present stadium was built with a larger seating capacity the local men, including Russell, would get up at four in the morning to go stand in line at Roberts Drugstore to buy season tickets to the football games to be sure of getting seats.”

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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