Andrew Goodman (November 23, 1943 – June 21, 1964) was one of three American activists of the Civil Rights Movement and also a Social Worker, murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
The remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”
Michael Henry Schwerner, was one of three Congress of Racial Equality field/ social workers killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi, by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Schwerner and two others were killed in response to their civil rights work, which included promoting voting registration among African Americans, most of whom had been disenfranchised in the state since 1890.
Chaney participated in the Freedom Rides in 1962. Protestors, known as Freedom Riders, traveled on buses in the south to challenge the practice of racial segregation on buses and in bus terminals. This effort was organized by the Congress of Racial Equality. Chaney joined CORE the following year and worked on getting African Americans in his community registered to vote. At the time, local and state governments in the south sought to deny African Americans their right to vote through different rules and tactics.
In June 1964, Chaney traveled with the Schwerners to Ohio for a volunteer training session. Hundreds of volunteers, many young college students from the north, were part of the Freedom Summer initiative. These volunteers signed on to help register African Americans in Mississippi to register to vote. Chaney and Michael Schwerner left the event early, however, after learning that the Mount Zion church had burned down and its members had been attacked by the Klu Klux Klan, a white supremacist group. Andrew Goodman, a young volunteer, also joined the pair on the trip back to Mississippi.
On June 21, Chaney was arrested by the police reportedly for speeding. He and his two companions were brought to the Neshoba County jail where they were held for several hours. Released around 10 p.m. that night, the three left the station and returned to their car. They drove away, but they never arrived at their destination. Their disappearance made national headlines, largely because Chaney's two companions were young white men. Other African Americans had met similar fates, but this was the first well-publicized incident involving whites. With all the media attention surrounding the case, President Lyndon Johnson called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate.
While local and state law enforcement largely ignored the case, the FBI sought to solve the mystery surrounding the fate of the three civil rights workers. The car Chaney drove was discovered two days later. It was found in Bogue Chitto swamp after the FBI received a tip regarding its location. There was no sign as to what happened to three young men, but the nation began to fear the worst.
Their Goal Achieved
The search for Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner finally ended in August when their bodies were discovered in an earthen dam on the Old Jolly Farm near Philadelphia, Mississippi. The three men had been shot to death. Local and state authorities refused to investigate the murders of the three CORE members, claiming a lack of evidence. The federal government stepped in and pursued civil rights charges against a group of men, including several law enforcement officers.
The legal battle dragged on for several years as the original charges were thrown out by one court on appeal and then the charges were later allowed to refiled. Of the original 18 men charged in connection with the case, only seven were found guilty and served time in prison. No one, however, had been held accountable for the actual murders.
Interest in the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner was renewed in the late 1980s with the release of Mississippi Burning (1988), a film based on the incident. A Clarion-Ledger reporter, Jerry Mitchell, was instrumental in reviving the case in the late 1990s. One of the original defendants, Edgar Ray Killen, was charged in connection with the murders. He was a local Klan leader and a Methodist minister at the time of the killings. Killen had been acquitted in the 1967 civil rights trial because one of the jurors refused to convict a preacher. This time around, however, Killen was found guilty of manslaughter in a 2005 trial and sentenced to 60 years in prison. He had been the main instigator of the 1964 killings.
They did it they died for what they fought and believed in!
Everyone can ride the bus!
The Goal is achieved in 2017!