Carolyn Goodman (psychologist)

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This article is about the clinical psychologist. For for the mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada, see Carolyn Goodman.

Carolyn Elizabeth Drucker Goodman (October 6, 1915 – August 17, 2007) was a clinical psychologist who became a prominent civil rights advocate after her son, Andrew Goodman and two other civil rights workers, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in Neshoba County, Mississippi, in 1964.

As a psychologist, Goodman specialized in creating early intervention programs for families at risk of psychiatric problems. She developed and ran the PACE Family Treatment Center, a program for emotionally disturbed mothers of young children, at The Bronx Psychiatric Center. Her articles were published widely in prominent professional journals.

Politically active until age 90, Goodman came to wide public attention again in 2005. Traveling to Philadelphia, Mississippi, she testified at the murder trial of Edgar Ray Killen, a former Klan leader recently indicted in the case. On June 21, 2005, the 41st anniversary of the killings, a jury acquitted Killen of murder but found him guilty of manslaughter in the deaths of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner.

Early life and education[edit]

Goodman was born in Woodmere, New York and earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1936, a master’s in clinical psychology from the City University of New York in 1953 and a doctorate in education from Columbia University Teachers College in 1968.


After her marriage to Robert W. Goodman, a civil engineer, in the late 1930s, their apartment became a haven for progressive artists and intellectuals. In the 1950s, the Goodmans were deeply involved in the fight against McCarthyism; Alger Hiss was a guest on occasion. In 1964, Andrew, then a student at Queens College, told his parents he planned to go to Mississippi. “It wasn’t easy for us”, Goodman told The New York Times in 2005. “But we couldn’t talk out of both sides of our mouths. So I had to let him go.”



In 1966, Goodman and her husband Robert established the Andrew Goodman Foundation, which supports a variety of social causes.

In 1967, a federal jury in Meridian, Mississippi convicted seven Klansmen of conspiracy in the deaths of the three civil rights workers. None served more than six years. In January 2005, Edgar Ray Killen, who in 1967 had been released due to a hung jury, was arrested and charged with murder by the State of Mississippi.

At his trial, Goodman read a postcard her son wrote on June 21, 1964, the last day of his life

Dear Mom and Dad,” it read, “I have arrived safely in Meridian, Miss. This is a wonderful town, and the weather is fine. I wish you were here. The people in this city are wonderful, and our reception was very good. All my love, Andy.

Personal life[edit]

Her husband Robert Goodman died of a stroke in 1969, aged 54. Her second husband, Joseph Eisner, whom she had married in 1972, died in 1992.


Goodman, who had suffered a series of strokes and seizures in the weeks before her death, died of natural causes in Manhattan, aged 91. At her death, she was assistant clinical professor emeritus of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in The Bronx. She is survived by her sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held on October 7, 2007 in Manhattan.


I still feel that I would let Andy go to Mississippi again ... [E]ven after this terrible thing happened to Andy, I couldn’t make a turnabout of everything I believe in. (C. Goodman in a 1965 interview with the New York Times)

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