Wayne and Sandy Cryts donated their family papers to Southeast Missouri State University’s Kent Library on Wednesday, October 1. The collection includes newspaper articles, photographs and other documents related to the Cryts’ political activities and is on display at the Special Collections and Archives.
Wayne and Sandy Cryts are known for a protest they led in 1981. The Ristine Grain Elevator in New Madrid was a storage facility where farmers kept their grains and soybeans. When it went bankrupt, the Federal Bankruptcy Court ruled against releasing the crops to the farmers, so the farmers raided the warehouse to get it all back.
“I believe there is more justice in this country than there is anywhere in the world, but justice is not always brought and set in your lap,” Wayne Cryts said. “Sometimes you have to stand up and sometimes you have to reach for it.”
He said if enough people who are treated unjustly will not stand up, then justice will get out of reach for us all.
The Stand at the Ristine Grain Elevator wasn’t the Cryts family’s only brush with advocacy. They began advocating for farmer’s rights in 1977 when they participated in the American Agriculture Movement.
“We decided agriculture had a political problem, and if we didn’t address the political problem it didn’t matter how efficient we were out there on the farm,” he said. “It didn’t matter how hard we worked if we didn’t change these policies.”
By making his collection available to the public, Wayne Cryts hopes to preserve the documents and make it easier for anyone interested in the history of the American Agriculture Movement.