Mississippi civil rights workers' murders

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Mississippi civil rights workers' murders
Mississippi KKK Conspiracy Murders June 21 1964 Victims Chaney Goodman Schwerner.jpg
Location Neshoba County, Mississippi
Date June 21, 1964 (Central)
Target James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (top to bottom)
Attack type
Deaths Three members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

Three American civil rights' workers, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael "Mickey" Schwerner, were shot at close range on the night of June 21–22, 1964 by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neshoba County Sheriff's Office and the Philadelphia Police Department located in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The three had been working on the "Freedom Summer" campaign, attempting to register African Americans to vote.

Their murders sparked national outrage and a massive federal investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to this investigation as Mississippi Burning (MIBURN), and eventually found the bodies 44 days later in an earthen dam near the murder site. After the state government refused to prosecute, the federal government initially charged 18 individuals but was able to secure convictions for only seven of them, who received relatively minor sentences for their actions. However, outrage over their deaths assisted in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[citation needed]


The KKK and a "Fiery Cross" image from the 1920s.

In the early 1960s Mississippi, as well as most of the South, was in defiance of federal authority regarding racial integration.[1][2] Recent Supreme Court rulings had upset the Mississippi establishment, and white Mississippian society responded with open hostility. Bombings, murders, vandalism, and intimidation were tactics used by white supremacists to discourage black Mississippians along with their Northern supporters. In 1961 Freedom Riders, who challenged institutionalized segregation, encouraged social unrest among the black underclass. In September 1962, the University of Mississippi riots had occurred to prevent James Meredith from matriculating.

Out of the social unrest came the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a splinter group created and led by Samuel Bowers of Laurel, Mississippi. As the summer of 1964 approached, white Mississippians prepared themselves for what they perceived as an invasion from the north. Media reports exaggerated about the number of youths to set up voting registration drives.[3] One Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) representative is quoted saying nearly 30,000 individuals would visit Mississippi during the summer.[3] The reports had a "jarring impact" upon white Mississippians and many responded by joining the White Knights.[3] More belligerent than other KKK groups, the White Knights would soon command a following of nearly 10,000 white Mississippians, preparing for a conflict not seen since the Civil War.

At the time, most black Mississippians were denied the vote. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) wanted to address this problem by starting voting registration drives and setting up places called Freedom Schools. Freedom schools were established to educate, encourage, and register the disenfranchised black citizens.[4] CORE members James Chaney and Michael Schwerner intended to set up a Freedom School for black people in Neshoba County.

Registering others to vote[edit]

On Memorial Day in 1964, Schwerner and Chaney spoke to the congregation at Mount Zion Methodist Church in Longdale, Mississippi; their speech was about setting up a Freedom School.[5] Schwerner implored them to register to vote, saying, "you have been slaves too long, we can help you help yourselves".[5] The White Knights learned of Schwerner's voting drive in Neshoba County and soon set in motion a plot to hinder their work and ultimately destroy their efforts. The White Knights wanted to lure CORE workers to Neshoba County, so they beat the congregation members and then torched the church, burning it to the ground.

On June 21, 1964, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner met at the Meridian COFO headquarters to prepare to leave for Longdale, Mississippi, to investigate the destruction of the Mount Zion Church. Schwerner told COFO Meridian to search for them if they were not back by 4 p.m.; he said, "if we're not back by then start trying to locate us."[4]

Arrest and imprisonment[edit]

After visiting Longdale, the three civil rights workers decided not to take road 491 to return to Meridian.[4] The narrow country road was unpaved; abandoned buildings littered the roadside. They decided to head west on Highway 16 to Philadelphia, the Neshoba County seat, then take southbound Highway 19 to Meridian, figuring it would be the faster route. The day was fast approaching three in the afternoon, and they were to be in Meridian by four.

The CORE station wagon had barely passed the Philadelphia city limits when one of its tires went flat, and Deputy Sheriff Cecil Ray Price turned on his dashboard-mounted red light.[4] The trio stopped near the Beacon and Main Street fork. With a long radio antenna mounted to his patrol car, Price called for officer Harry Wiggs and E. R. Poe of the Mississippi Highway Patrol.[4] Chaney was arrested for driving 65 mph in a 35 mph zone; Goodman and Schwerner were held for investigation. They were taken to the Neshoba County jail on Myrtle Street, a block from the courthouse.

The 4 p.m. deadline came and went with no word from the three workers. By 4:45 p.m., COFO Jackson office was notified that the trio had not returned from Neshoba County.[4] Telephone calls were made to area authorities but produced no results; contacted offices said they had not seen the civil rights workers.[4]

Masterminding the conspiracy[edit]

Parties To The Conspiracy; Top Row: Lawrence A. Rainey, Bernard L. Akin, Other "Otha" N. Burkes, Olen L. Burrage, Edgar Ray Killen. Bottom Row: Frank J. Herndon, James T. Harris, Oliver R. Warner, Herman Tucker , and Samuel H. Bowers.[citation needed]

Nine men, including Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey, were called parties to the conspiracy.[6] Rainey denied he was ever a part of the conspiracy but was accused of ignoring the offenses committed in Neshoba County, and has been accused of murdering several black people. At the time of the murders, the 37-year-old Rainey insisted he was visiting his sick wife in a Meridian hospital and later with family watching Bonanza.[7] As events unfolded, Rainey became emboldened with his newly found popularity in the Philadelphia, Mississippi, community. Known for his tobacco chewing habit, Rainey was famously photographed and quoted in Life magazine as saying: "Hey, let's have some Red Man" while other members of the conspiracy laughed while waiting for an arraignment to start.[8]

Fifty-year-old Bernard Akin had a mobile home business which he operated out of Meridian; he was a member of the White Knights.[6] Other N. Burkes, who usually went by the nickname of Otha, was a Philadelphia Police officer. The 71-year-old World War I veteran was a 25-year veteran on the city police force; he had a cruel disposition, especially toward black people.[9] At the time of the December 1964 arraignment, Burkes was awaiting a previous indictment for a different civil rights case. Olen L. Burrage, who was 34 at the time, owned a trucking company. Burrage's Old Jolly Farm is where the civil rights workers were buried. Burrage, an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, is quoted as saying: "I got a dam big enough to hold a hundred of them."[10] Several weeks after the murders Burrage told the FBI: "I want people to know I’m sorry it happened."[11] Edgar Ray Killen, a Baptist preacher and sawmill owner, would decades later be convicted of orchestrating the murders.

Frank J. Herndon, 46, operated a Meridian drive-in called the "Longhorn";[6] he was the Exalted Grand Cyclops of the Meridian White Knights. James T. Harris, also known as Pete, was a White Knight investigator. The 30-year old Harris would "keep tabs" on the three civil rights workers' every move. Oliver R. Warner, known as Pops, was a Meridian grocery owner. Warner, 54, was a member of the White Knights. Herman Tucker lived in Hope, Mississippi, a few miles from the Neshoba County Fair grounds. Tucker, 36, was not a member of the White Knights, but he was a building contractor who worked for Burrage. Tucker was also assigned by the White Knights to dispose of the CORE station wagon. White Knights Imperial Wizard Samuel H. Bowers, who served with the U.S. Navy during World War II, was not apprehended on December 4, 1964, but he was implicated the following year. Bowers, then 39, is credited with saying: "This is a war between the Klan and the FBI. And in a war, there have to be some who suffer."[citation needed]

On Sunday, June 7, 1964, nearly 300 White Knights met near Raleigh, Mississippi.[12] Bowers addressed the White Knights about the "nigger-communist invasion of Mississippi" to take place in a few weeks.[12] The men listened as Bowers stated: "This summer the enemy will launch his final push for victory in Mississippi", and, "there must be a secondary group of our members, standing back from the main area of conflict, armed and ready to move. It must be an extremely swift, extremely violent, hit-and-run group."[12]

Lynch mob forms[edit]

Lynch Mob; Top Row, L-R: Cecil R. Price, Travis M. Barnette, Alton W. Roberts, Jimmy K. Arledge, Jimmy Snowden. Bottom Row, L-R: Jerry M. Sharpe, Billy W. Posey, Jimmy L. Townsend, Horace D. Barnette, James Jordan.

Although federal authorities believed there were many others who took part in the Neshoba County lynching, only ten men were charged with the physical murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.[6] One of these was the county's deputy sheriff, who played a crucial role in implementing the conspiracy. Before his friend Lawrence A. Rainey was elected sheriff in 1963, Cecil R. Price worked as a salesman, bouncer, and fireman.[6] Price had no prior experience in local law enforcement. The 26-year-old Price was the only person who witnessed the entire event. He arrested the three men, released them the night of the murders, and chased them down state highway 19 toward Meridian, eventually re-capturing them at the intersection near House, Mississippi. Price and the other nine men would escort them north along highway 19 to Rock Cut Road where the three civil rights workers would be murdered. All hopes for a "tell all" confession faded when Price, in his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi, fell to his death during a machinery accident in 2001.[citation needed]

Killen went to Meridian earlier that Sunday to organize and recruit men for the job to be carried out in Neshoba County.[13] Before the men left for Philadelphia, Travis M. Barnette, 36, went to his Meridian home to take care of a sick family member. Travis Barnette owned a Meridian garage and was a member of the White Knights. Alton W. Roberts, 26, was a dishonorably discharged U.S. Marine and worked as a salesman in Meridian. Roberts, standing at 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and weighing in at 225 lb (102 kg), was a formidable foe and renowned for his short temper. According to witnesses, Roberts shot both Goodman and Schwerner at point blank range. He also shot Chaney in the head after another accomplice, James Jordan, shot Chaney in the abdomen. Roberts is known for saying, "Are you that nigger lover?", and shooting Schwerner after the latter responded, "Sir, I know just how you feel." Jimmy K. Arledge, 27, and Jimmy Snowden, 31, were both Meridian commercial drivers. Arledge, a high school drop-out, and Snowden, a U.S. Army veteran, were present during the murders. After the second arrest by Price, Arledge would drive the CORE station wagon from state highway 492 to Rock Cut Road.

Jerry M. Sharpe, Billy W. Posey, and Jimmy L. Townsend were all from Philadelphia. Sharpe, 21, ran a pulp wood supply house. Posey, 28, a Williamsville, Mississippi automobile mechanic, owned a 1958 red and white Chevrolet; the car was considered fast and was chosen over Sharpe's. The youngest was the Townsend, 17; he left high school in 1964 to work at Posey's Phillips 66 garage. Horace D. Barnette, 25, was Travis' younger half-brother; he had a 1957 two-toned blue Ford Fairlane sedan.[6] Horace Barnette's car is the one they took after Posey's car broke down. James Jordan, 38, has been claimed as the killer of Chaney. Jordan confessed his crimes to the federal authorities in exchange for a plea deal.[citation needed]

Pursuit on Highway 19[edit]

After Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner's release from the Neshoba County jail, around 10 p.m., they were followed almost immediately by Deputy Sheriff Price in his 1957 white Chevrolet sedan patrol car.[14] Soon afterward, the civil rights workers left the city limits located along Hospital Road and headed south on state Highway 19. The workers arrived at Pilgrim's store where they may have been inclined to stop and use the telephone, but the presence of a Mississippi Highway Safety patrol car, manned by Officer Wiggs and Poe, most likely dissuaded them. They continued south toward Meridian.

The lynch mob members, who were in Barnette's and Posey's cars, were drinking while arguing who would kill the three young men. Eventually Philadelphia Police Officer Burkes drove up to Horace D. Barnette's car and told the mob: "They're going on 19 toward Meridian. Follow them!" After a quick rendezvous with Philadelphia police officer Richard Willis, Price was in pursuit of the three civil rights workers.

Posey's Chevrolet carried Roberts, Sharpe, and Townsend. The Chevy apparently had carburetor problems and was forced to be parked at the side of the highway. Sharpe and Townsend were ordered to stay with Posey's car and service it. Now riding in Barnette's car were Arledge, Jordan, Posey, Roberts, and Snowden.

Price eventually caught the CORE station wagon heading west toward Union, Mississippi, on state highway 492. Soon the three civil right workers would be escorted north on Highway 19 to secluded Rock Cut Road where they would be killed by Jordan and Roberts.

Disposing of the evidence[edit]

Ford Station Wagon location near the Bogue Chitto River near Highway 21

After the three men were shot, their bodies were quickly loaded into their Ford station wagon and were sent to Burrage's Old Jolly Farm dam located along Highway 21, a few miles southwest of Philadelphia. Herman Tucker was at the dam waiting for the lynch mob's arrival. Tucker was a heavy machinery operator and was most likely the one who covered up the bodies using a bulldozer that he owned. Earlier in the day, Burrage, Posey, and Tucker had met at Posey's gasoline station or Burrage's garage to discuss burial details. After the bodies were buried, Price told the group:

Well, boys, you've done a good job. You've struck a blow for the white man. Mississippi can be proud of you. You've let those agitating outsiders know where this state stands. Go home now and forget it. But before you go, I'm looking each one of you in the eye and telling you this: "The first man who talks is dead! If anybody who knows anything about this ever opens his mouth to any outsider about it, then the rest of us are going to kill him just as dead as we killed those three sonofbitches (sic) tonight. Does everybody understand what I'm saying. The man who talks is dead, dead, dead!"[15]

Eventually, Tucker was tasked with disposing of the CORE station wagon in Alabama, but, for reasons unknown, the station wagon was left near a river in northeast Neshoba County along Highway 21. The station wagon was soon set ablaze and abandoned.[citation needed]

Investigation and public attention[edit]

The station wagon on an abandoned logging road along Highway 21.

Unconvinced by the assurances of the Memphis-based agents, Sullivan elected to wait in Memphis ... for the start of the "invasion" of northern students ... Sullivan's instinctive decision to stick around Memphis proved correct. Early Monday morning, June 22, he was informed of the disappearance ... he was ordered to Meridian. The town would be his home for the next nine months.

—Cagin & Dray, We Are Not Afraid, 1988[16]

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover initially ordered the FBI Office in Meridian, run by John Proctor, to begin a preliminary search. That evening, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy escalated the search and 150 federal agents were sent from New Orleans.[17] Two Native Americans found the smoldering car that evening; by the next morning, that information had been communicated to Proctor. Joseph Sullivan of the FBI immediately arrived at the scene,[18] and by the next day, hundreds of sailors from the nearby Naval Air Station Meridian were searching the swamps of Bogue Chitto.

J. Edgar Hoover was antipathetic to civil rights groups in general. President Lyndon Johnson had to use indirect threats of political reprisal to force Hoover to investigate. During the investigation, searchers including Navy divers and FBI agents discovered the bodies of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, college students who had been kidnapped, beaten and killed in May 1964; 14-year old Herbert Oarsby, and five other unidentified Mississippi blacks, whose disappearances in the recent past had not attracted attention outside their local communities,[19] but not the CORE activists, which were only found after an informant ("Mr. X") passed along a tip to federal authorities.[20] They were discovered underneath an earthen dam on Olen Burrage's 254 acres (103 ha; 0.397 sq mi) farm. Schwerner and Goodman had each been shot once in the heart; Chaney, a black man, had been beaten and shot three times.

All of these murdered men have biographies posted in the indexes of The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ), which conducts research and supports policy initiatives on anti-civil rights violence in the United States and other miscarriages of justice of that period. CRRJ serves as a resource for scholars, policymakers, and organizers involved in various initiatives seeking justice for crimes of the civil rights era.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others look on, July 2, 1964.

The disappearance of the three activists captured national attention. All major news networks covered the disappearances by the end of the first week, and Johnson met with the parents of Goodman and Schwerner in the Oval Office. Johnson and civil rights activists used the outrage over their deaths in their efforts to bring about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was signed on July 2, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which was signed on August 6. Walter Cronkite's CBS newscast broadcast on June 25, 1964, called the disappearances "the focus of the whole country's concern".[21] The FBI eventually offered a $25,000 reward (equivalent to $190,000 in 2015), which led to the breakthrough in the case.

Mississippi officials resented the outside attention. The Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey said, "They're just hiding and trying to cause a lot of bad publicity for this part of the state." The Mississippi governor Paul Johnson dismissed concern by stating that "they could be in Cuba".[22]


By late November 1964 the FBI accused 21 Mississippi men of engineering a conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. Most of the offenders were apprehended by the FBI on December 4, 1964.[23] The FBI detained the following individuals: B. Akin, E. Akin, Arledge, T. Barnette, Burkes, Burrage, Bowers, Harris, Herndon, Killen, Price, Rainey, Posey, Roberts, Sharpe, Snowden, Townsend, Tucker, and Warner. Two individuals who were not interviewed and photographed, H. Barnette and James Jordan, would later confess their roles during the murder.[24]

Sheriff Lawrence Rainey being escorted by two FBI agents to the federal courthouse in Meridian, Mississippi; October 1964

Because Mississippi officials refused to prosecute the killers for murder, a state crime, the federal government, led by prosecutor John Doar, charged 18 individuals under 18 U.S.C. §242 and §371 with conspiring to deprive the three of their civil rights (by murder). They indicted Sheriff Rainey, Deputy Sheriff Price and 16 other men.

Those found guilty on October 20, 1967, were Cecil Price, Klan Imperial Wizard Samuel Bowers, Alton Wayne Roberts, Jimmy Snowden, Billey Wayne Posey, Horace Barnett, and Jimmy Arledge. Sentences ranged from 3 to 10 years. After exhausting their appeals, the seven began serving their sentences in March 1970. None served more than six years. Sheriff Rainey was among those acquitted. Two of the defendants, E.G. Barnett, a candidate for sheriff, and Edgar Ray Killen, a local minister, had been strongly implicated in the murders by witnesses, but the jury came to a deadlock on their charges and the Federal prosecutor decided not to retry them.[17] On May 7, 2000, the jury revealed that in the case of Killen, they deadlocked after a lone juror stated she "could never convict a preacher".[25]


Mt. Zion Church state history marker

"To many", a longtime resident once acknowledged, "it will always be June 21, 1964, in Philadelphia."

—Cagin & Dray, We Are Not Afraid, 1988[26]

For much of the next four decades, no legal action was taken on the murders. In 1989, on the 25th anniversary of the murders, the U.S. Congress passed a non-binding resolution honoring the three men; Senator Trent Lott and the rest of the Mississippi delegation refused to vote for it.[27]

The journalist Jerry Mitchell, an award-winning investigative reporter for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, wrote extensively about the case for six years. Mitchell had earned fame for helping secure convictions in several other high-profile Civil Rights Era murder cases, including the murders of Medgar Evers and Vernon Dahmer, and the Birmingham Church Bombing.

In the case of the civil rights workers, Mitchell was aided in developing new evidence, finding new witnesses, and pressuring the state to take action by Barry Bradford,[28] a high school teacher at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, and three of his students, Allison Nichols, Sarah Siegel, and Brittany Saltiel. Bradford later achieved recognition for helping Mitchell clear the name of the civil rights martyr Clyde Kennard.[29]

Together the student-teacher team produced a documentary for the National History Day contest. It presented important new evidence and compelling reasons to reopen the case. Bradford also obtained an interview with Edgar Ray Killen, which helped convince the state to investigate. Partially by using evidence developed by Bradford, Mitchell was able to determine the identity of "Mr. X", the mystery informer who had helped the FBI discover the bodies and end the conspiracy of the Klan in 1964.[30]

Mitchell's investigation and the high school students' work in creating Congressional pressure, national media attention and Bradford's taped conversation with Killen prompted action.[31] In 2004, on the 40th anniversary of the murders, a multi-ethnic group of citizens in Philadelphia, Mississippi, issued a call for justice. More than 1,500 people, including civil rights leaders and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, joined them to voice their desire to revisit the case.[32][33]

On January 6, 2005, a Neshoba County grand jury indicted Edgar Ray Killen on three counts of murder. When the Mississippi Attorney General prosecuted the case, it was the first time the state took action against the perpetrators. Rita Bender, Michael Schwerner's widow, testified in the trial.[34] On June 21, 2005, a jury convicted Killen on three counts of manslaughter; he was described as the man who planned and directed the killing of the civil rights workers.[35] Killen, then 80 years old, was sentenced to three consecutive terms of 20 years in prison. His appeal, where he claimed that no jury of his peers would have convicted him at the time on the evidence presented, was rejected by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2007.[36]

Legacy and honors[edit]



Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner[edit]




  • At Cedar Springs High School in Cedar Springs, Michigan, an outdoor memorial theatre is dedicated to the Freedom Summer alums. The day of Goodman's murder is acknowledged each year on campus, and the clock tower of the campus library is dedicated to Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner.[citation needed]


  • A memorial at the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church commemorates the three civil rights activists.[37]
  • A state history marker at Mount Zion Methodist Church, in Neshoba County, is dedicated to the three men.[38]

New York[edit]

  • New York City named "Freedom Place", a four-block stretch in Manhattan's Upper West Side, in honor of Chaney, Goodman, and Shwerner.[when?] A plaque on 70th Street and Freedom Place (Riverside Drive) briefly tells their story.[39][40] The plaque was re-located in 1999 to the garden of Hostelling International New York. Mrs. Goodman wanted the plaque to be in a place visited by young people.[citation needed]
  • A stained glass window depicting the three was placed in Sage Chapel at Cornell University in 1991. Schwerner was a Cornell graduate, as were Goodman's parents.[41]
  • In June 2014, Schwerner's hometown, Pelham, New York, kicked off a year-long, town-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner's deaths:[42]
    • On June 22, 2014, the Pelham Picture House held a free screening of the film Freedom Summer ahead of the film's June 24 premiere on American Experience on PBS. The screening was followed by a discussion and Q&A session with an expert panel.[43]
    • In November, close to Election Day and Schwerner’s birthday, the Schwerner-Chaney-Goodman Memorial Commemoration Committee and the Pelham School District will host a multiple activities, such as a keynote speech by Nicholas Lemann (Dean Emeritus and Henry R. Luce professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City).[42]
    • Also in autumn 2014, The Picture House Evening Film Club for students in grades 9 through 12 will show a film they are creating, on the theme "What price freedom", inspired by Schwerner’s commitment and sacrifice.[42]

Washington, D.C.[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

Numerous works portray or reference the stories of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, the aftermath of their murders and subsequent trial, and other related events of that summer.


  • In the 27-minute documentary short Summer in Mississippi (October 11, 1964 Canada, 1965 USA), written and directed by Beryl Fox, "The filmmakers travel to the American south to interview friends, relatives and enemies of three young civil rights workers who were murdered while educating black voters."[44]
  • The two-part CBS made-for-television movie, Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan (1975), co-starring Wayne Rogers and Ned Beatty, is based on Don Whitehead's book (Attack on Terror: The F.B.I. Against the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi). Actor Hilly Hicks portrayed "Charles Gilmore", a fictionalized representation of James Chaney, actor Andrew Parks portrayed "Steven Bronson", a fictionalized representation of Andrew Goodman, and actor Peter Strauss portrayed "Ben Jacobs", a fictionalized representation of Schwerner. The sympathetic portrayal of FBI agents in Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan (1974) and Mississippi Burning (1988) angered civil rights activists, who believed the Bureau received too much credit for solving the case and too little condemnation for their previous lack of action in regards to civil rights abuses.[citation needed]
  • The feature film Mississippi Burning (1988), starring Willem Dafoe and Gene Hackman, is loosely based upon the murders and ensuing FBI investigation. Goodman is portrayed in the film by actor Rick Zieff and simply identified as "Passenger". Schwerner, identified in the credits simply as "Goatee", is portrayed in the film by Geoffrey Nauftts.
  • The documentary Neshoba (2008) details the murders, the investigation, and the 2005 trial of Edgar Ray Killen. The film features statements by many surviving relatives of the victims, other residents of Neshoba county, and other people connected to the civil rights movement, as well as footage from the 2005 trial.[45]

Fine art[edit]

  • Norman Rockwell depicted the murders in his painting, Murder in Mississippi (1965), to illustrate Charles Morgan's investigative article in LOOK Magazine, titled Southern Justice (June 29, 1965). The article was part of a series on civil rights.[46][47]



Concert Drama[edit]

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky’s evening-long concert drama, August 4, 1964, was based on the tragic events of that date: the discovery in Mississippi of the bodies of three recently murdered young civil rights workers and a spurious “attack” on two American warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. Commissioned to commemorate the centennial of the birth of Lyndon B. Johnson, it premiered to excellent reviews.[48]


  • Richard Farina's song, "Michael, Andrew and James", performed with Mimi Farina, was included in their first Vanguard album, Celebrations for a Grey Day (1965).
  • The band Flobots' song, "Same Thing", asks to bring back Chaney.
  • Phil Ochs wrote his song, "Here's to the State of Mississippi", about these events and other violations of civil rights that took place in that state.


  • The story was a backdrop in at least two first season episodes of the television series American Dreams (2002): "Down the Shore" and "High Hopes".
  • In Mad Men: "Public Relations" (Season 4, Episode 1), Don Draper's date Bethany mentions knowing Andrew Goodman, stating: "The world is so dark right now", and, "Is that what it takes to make things change?" These statements are the first indication of what year Season 4 takes place in.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/mississippi/e1.html, American Radio Works. Retrieved 19, 2012.
  2. ^ http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready-Reference/New-York-Times-Chronology/Browse-by-Date/New-York-Times-Chronology-September-1962.aspx, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. September 21, 1962, Retrieved 19, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Don Whitehead (September 1970). "Murder in Mississippi". Reader's Digest: 196. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "June 21, 1964". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. [page needed]. 
  5. ^ a b Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "June 21, 1964". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 2. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. [page needed]
  7. ^ Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 282. 
  8. ^ Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "The Forty-Four Days". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. pp. 377–378. 
  9. ^ Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 287. 
  10. ^ Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 283. 
  11. ^ "Olen Burrage Dies at 82; Linked to Killings in 1964". 
  12. ^ a b c Don Whitehead (September 1970). "Murder in Mississippi". Reader's Digest: 194. 
  13. ^ Seth Cagin, Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 278. 
  14. ^ Seth Cagin, Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. pp. 285–286. 
  15. ^ Howard Ball (2004). "COFO's Mississippi 'Freedom Summer' Project". Murder in Mississippi. University Press of Kansas. p. 62. 
  16. ^ Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "A Problem of Law Enforcement". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 329. 
  17. ^ a b "Neshoba Murders Case—A Chronology". Arkansas Delta Truth and Justice Center. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  18. ^ Linder, Douglas O. "The Mississippi Burning Trial". Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  19. ^ Lynching of Chaney, Schwerner & Goodman ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans
  20. ^ Don Whitehead (September 1970). "Murder in Mississippi". Reader's Digest: 214. 
  21. ^ Howard Ball (2004). "COFO's Mississippi 'Freedom Summer' Project". Murder in Mississippi. University Press of Kansas. p. 64. 
  22. ^ "Civil Rights: Grim Discovery in Mississippi". Time. June 22, 2005. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  23. ^ David Nevin (December 1964). "Day of Accusation in Mississippi". Life. pp. 36–37. 
  24. ^ Douglas O. Linder (2012). "Mississippi Burning Trial: A Chronology". University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  25. ^ Jerry Mitchell, The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger (February 4, 2014). "Congressional honor sought for Freedom Summer martyrs". USA Today. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  26. ^ Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "Raise America Up". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 454. 
  27. ^ Ladd, Donna (29 May 2007). "Dredging Up the Past: Why Mississippians Must Tell Our Own Stories". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  28. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9ro-kYKYHc/
  29. ^ http://barrybradford.com/mississippi-burning-3/faq/
  30. ^ Mitchell, Jerry (December 2, 2007). "Documents Identify Whistle-blower", The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS).
  31. ^ "How Mississippi Burning Was Reopened". MississippiBurning.org. Archived from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved September 21, 2011. 
  32. ^ Broder, David S. (January 16, 2005). "Mississippi Healing". The Washington Post. 
  33. ^ "Statement Asking for Justice in the June 21, 1964, Murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner".,The Neshoba Democrat. June 24, 2004. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
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