Murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner


“The murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, also known as the Freedom Summer murders, the Mississippi civil rights workers’ murders or the Mississippi Burning murders, involved three activists who were abducted and murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi in June 1964 during the Civil Rights Movement. The victims were James Chaney from Meridian, Mississippi, and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner from New York City. All three were associated with the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and its member organization, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). They had been working with the Freedom Summer campaign by attempting to register African Americans in Mississippi to vote. This registration effort was a part of contesting over 70 years of laws and practices that supported a systematic policy, begun by several states in 1890, of disenfranchisement of potential black voters. The three men had traveled from Meridian to the community of Longdale to talk with congregation members at a church that had been burned. The trio was thereafter arrested following a traffic stop outside Philadelphia, Mississippi for speeding, escorted to the local jail and held for a number of hours. As the three left town in their car, they were followed by law enforcement and others. Before leaving Neshoba County, the car was pulled over and all three were abducted, driven to another location, and shot at close range. The three men’s bodies were then transported to an earthen dam where they were buried.  The disappearance of the three men was initially investigated as a missing persons case. The civil rights workers’ burnt-out car was found near a swamp three days after their disappearance. An extensive search of the area was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), local and state authorities, and four hundred United States Navy sailors. The three men’s bodies were only discovered two months later thanks to a tip-off. During the investigation it emerged that members of the local White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neshoba County Sheriff’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department were involved in the incident. … In 1967, after the state government refused to prosecute, the United States federal government charged 18 individuals with civil rights violations. Seven were convicted and received relatively minor sentences for their actions. Outrage over the activists’ disappearances helped gain passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. …”
Wikipedia
The Atlantic: The Cost of Closing the ‘Mississippi Burning’ Murder Case
PBS: Murder in Mississippi
NY Times: Edgar Ray Killen, Convicted in ’64 Killings of Rights Workers, Dies at 92 (Jan. 12, 2018)
YouTube: Remembering the “Mississippi Burning” murders

This June 24, 1964, photo shows the burned station wagon of the three missing civil rights workers in a swampy area.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Civil Rights Mov., CORE, Free Speech Mov., Freedom Summer, MLKJr., SCLC, SNCC and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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