Baby Doll

Sara Lee Creech of Belle Glade tells a long-forgotten chapter of civil rights history

Creech says that she had given all she could to the doll project. She had traveled to New York, Washington, and Atlanta for three years drumming up support. "I had to go back to Belle Glade to take care of the bills," she says. "I couldn't afford the time or the expense of following through on it. I did what I thought was right and what was needed, but I had to go back to real life."

At home, Creech became deeply involved in the Inter-Racial Council's development of the Wee Care Center, which still operates today. She continued with her florist shop and her friendships. Creech's great niece Frances Borque, who grew up in Belle Glade and now lives in Boynton Beach, says that her Aunt Sara stood out in the white community. People whispered that she had black people living at her house. "When I was young, I was embarrassed by her a little," recalls Borque, now in her fifties.

In the 1950s, several members of the Inter-Racial Council, including Creech, were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan. Creech says she was at home working one day when a neighbor called. "Sara, did you know that the Klan is marching in front of your house?" the neighbor queried. "I looked out the window, and there they were," Creech says. "We just laughed about it. There are people with opposite opinions. As long as they didn't bother me, I had no reason to bother them."

But Creech realizes she was also protected somewhat because her brother R.Y. was well-liked and respected in the white community. "Some of us on the Inter-Racial Council talked about [my dedication to improving the racial climate]," she recalls. "They said, 'Sara, I don't know how you managed to get away with all that,'" she remembers. "I think it was because we were under Bob Creech's umbrella. No one was going to tackle me with him being so prominent. If I had been an unknown person, maybe it would have been different."

In her June 1950 letter about the Sara Lee doll, Zora Neale Hurston complimented Creech on her dedication to social improvement and speculated on its source: "I suppose that I should not be surprised at the steps you have taken, for never was I more surprised and delighted than when I spoke at Belle Glade and found your extraordinary inter-racial council. It could be a model for the nation, and according to what I hear, you, Sara Creech, are at the very heart of it. This follows a conclusion that I reached some years ago from observation. This is, that the so-called Race Problem will be solved in the South and by Southerners. I have noted that when a Southerner becomes convinced, he goes all out for correcting the situation."

Poole, who bought four Sara Lee dolls for his two daughters and two granddaughters, put it another way. "Sara Creech is a woman without a malicious bone in her body," he said. "It was a beautiful thing that Sara did. It was a beautiful doll."

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