Mississippi civil rights workers' murders
|Mississippi civil rights workers murders|
|Location||Neshoba County, Mississippi|
|Date||June 21, 1964 (Central)|
|Target||James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner(top to bottom)|
|Deaths||Three members of COFO|
The Mississippi Civil Rights Workers Murders involve the lynching of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael "Mickey" Schwerner by white Mississippians during the American Civil Rights Movement.
On the night of June 21–22, 1964, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were threatened, intimidated, beaten, shot, and buried by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neshoba County's Sheriff Office and the Philadelphia Police Department located in Philadelphia, Mississippi. After the largest and most televised search at the time, their bodies were found 44 days later in an earthen dam near the murder site.
Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner's murders sparked national outrage and spurred the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. African Americans and other minorities in Mississippi, as throughout the former Confederacy, lived under racial segregation and Jim Crow laws, and had been essentially disfranchised since the passage of the state constitution of 1890.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to this investigation as Mississippi Burning or MIBURN. Due to the conspiracy's sophistication and complexity, the MIBURN case is renowned as one of the Bureau's greatest accomplishments.
In the early 1960s Mississippi, as well as most of the South, was in total defiance of federal authority. 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 to discourage colored Mississippians along with their Northern supporters. In 1961 Freedom Riders, who challenged institutionalized segregation, encouraged social unrest among the colored 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. One COFO representative is quoted saying nearly 30,000 individuals would visit Mississippi during the summer. The reports had a "jarring impact" upon white Mississippians and many responded by joining the White Knights. 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 American Civil War.
In response to White Mississippian authority, colored Americans created organizations such as Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other similar groups to address institutionalized segregation and other hostilities. In Mississippi, colored referred to people of non-European heritage such as Black Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Asians. Colored Mississippians usually had "separate but equal" facilities from those of White Mississippians. In Mississippian society, it was not uncommon to see two water fountains labeled for White and the other Colored or a movie theater with a colored-only section.
At the time, most colored Mississippians were denied the power of voting, a privilege of educated White Mississippians. 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 colored citizens. CORE members James Chaney and Michael Schwerner intended to set up a Freedom School for colored people in Neshoba County.
Registering others to vote 
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. Schwerner implored them to register to vote and saying "you have been slaves too long, we can help you help yourselves". 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 pm; he said "if we're not back by then start trying to locate for us."
Arrest and Imprisonment 
After visiting Longdale, the three civil rights workers decided not to take the road down 491 toward Meridian. The narrow country road was not paved and littered with abandoned buildings. They decided to head west along highway 16 and made a left turn onto Highway 19 toward Meridian figuring it would be the faster route, but the route led into the interior of "bloody" Neshoba County. The day was fast approaching three in the afternoon, and they were to be in Meridian by four.
Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner's decision would prove to be deadly. Almost simultaneously as they entered the Philadelphia city limits the CORE station wagon had a flat tire and Deputy Sheriff Cecil Ray Price turned on his dash board mounted red light. 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. Chaney was arrested for doing 65 mph in a 35 mph zone; Goodman and Schwerner were held to be investigated. They were taken to the Neshoba County jail located on Myrtle Street which was only a block away 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 did not return from Neshoba County. Telephone calls were made to area authorities but produced no results. Neshoba County offices were contacted but denied ever seeing the civil rights workers.
Masterminding the conspiracy 
Nine men, including Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey, were called parties to the conspiracy. 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 Blacks. At the time of the murders, the thirty-seven-year-old Rainey insisted he was visiting his sick wife in a Meridian hospital and later with family watching Bonanza. 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.
Fifty-year-old Bernard Akins had a mobile home business which he operated out of Meridian; he was a member of the White Knights. Other N. Burkes, who usually went by the nickname of Otha, was a Philadelphia Police officer. The seventy-one-year-old was a twenty-five year veteran on the city police force; the World War I veteran had a cruel disposition, especially for colored people, and in particular Blacks. 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 thirty-four at the time, was the owner of a trucking company. Burrage's Old Jolly Farm is where the civil rights workers were buried. Burrage, a honorable discharged U.S. Marine, is quoted as saying "I got a dam big enough to hold a hundred of them." Several weeks after the murders Burrage told the FBI that "I want people to know I’m sorry it happened." Edgar Ray Killen was a Baptist preacher and sawmill owner; he was convicted, of masterminding the entire event.
Frank J. Herndon, forty-six, was the operator of a Meridian drive-in called the "Longhorn". He was the Exalted Grand Cyclops of the Meridian White Knights. James T. Harris, also known as Pete, was a White Knight investigator. The thirty-year old 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, 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."
Sunday June 7, 1964 
Near Raleigh, Mississippi, airplanes piloted by Klansmen circled above to keep a watchful eye on the surrounding area as nearly 300 White Knights clandestinely met. Bowers addressed the White Knights about the "nigger-communist invasion of Mississippi" to take place in a few weeks. 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."
Lynch mob forms 
Although federal authorities believed there were many others who took part in the Neshoba County lynching, only ten men were charged with the actual murder of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. One of these men included 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, Price worked as a salesman, bouncer, and fireman. Cecil R. Price had no prior experience in local law enforcement. The twenty-six-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.
Killen went to Meridian earlier that Sunday to organize and recruit men for the job to be carried out in Neshoba County. 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 was the owner of 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 Jordan shot him in the abdomen. Roberts is known for saying "Are you that nigger lover?" and shooting Schwerner after he 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. The twenty-eight-year-old Posey, 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 seventeen-year-old Townsend; he left high school in 1964 to work at Posey's Phillips 66 garage. Horace D. Barnette, 25, was the younger half-brother of Travis. He had a 1957 two-toned blue Ford Fairlane sedan. 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.
Pursuit on Highway 19 
After the release of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner around 10 p.m. from the Neshoba County jail, they were followed almost immediately by Deputy Sheriff Price in his 1957 white Chevrolet sedan patrol car. Soon after, the civil rights workers left the city limits located along Hospital Road, they headed south on state highway 19. The civil rights 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, who was in Barnette's and Posey's cars, was 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 that "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 Sharpe, Townsend, and Roberts. Posey's car 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. In Horace's car were Jordan, Arledge, Snowden, Roberts, and Posey.
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 executed by Roberts and Jordan. After the murders, Jordan reportedly said, "well, you didn't leave me nothing but a nigger, but at least I killed me a nigger."
Disposing of the evidence 
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 arrival of the lynch mob. 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, Posey, Burrage, 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!"
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.
Federal Authorities Intervene 
While on their way to work driving south down Highway 21, Raymond Dallas and T. Hudson, saw a burning car at the edge of the Bogue Chitto Creek at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Monday June 22; however, they continued on to work. They later offered this information to investigating federal agents.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered the FBI Office in Meridian to begin a preliminary search. John Proctor was the agent in charge at FBI Meridian. At 6:20 P.M., U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy escalated the search and 150 federal agents were sent from New Orleans.
In the evening, two Native Americans found a smoldering car about 25 yards off Highway 21 near the Bogue Chitto Creek. They were there to fish near the bridge that spanned the river, not an uncommon sight in Mississippi. The creek was a short distance from one of three Native American reservations found in Neshoba County. One fisherman inspected the smoldering remains which he considered purposely abandoned. He salvaged the hub caps and a mirror from the CORE station wagon and hid them in a blackberry thicket to retrieve them at a later date. He later revealed his newly acquired stash to Federal authorities.
Tuesday June 23, 1964 
At 10:30 am, FBI agent John Proctor received a call from the Indian Superintendent who works for the Department of the Interior's Indian Agency at Philadelphia, Mississippi. Lonnie Hardin told Proctor over the phone that two Choctaw Native Americans have found a burned car near a river in northeast Neshoba County. Proctor said to Hardin "you're probably the most important man I know. Just wait for me." Leaving Meridian at a high rate of speed, John Proctor arrives in Philadelphia to speak to Hardin.
Around noon agents found a 1963 Blue Ford Fairlane Station Wagon with Hinds County License Number H25 503. Almost immediately, the case receives national attention. By the end of the week all the major news outlets were covering the events unfolding in Neshoba County. Goodman and Schwerner's parents arrive at the Oval office to speak to President Lyndon B. Johnson. By the next day hundreds of U.S. Navy sailors from nearby Naval Air Station Meridian searched the Bogue Chitto swamps for the lost men. Joseph Sullivan, Major Case Inspector, immediately arrived to the scene of the abandoned car.
Tuesday August 4, 1964 
After weeks of searching nearly every acre in Neshoba County, federal authorities got their break after an informant told them where the bodies may be located. Agents were sent to the area along Highway 21 just south of the Neshoba County Fairgrounds to search for a large earthen dam. The area along the highway was so densely forested that they couldn't find it. They radioed for a helicopter to find the dam and guide them to it. The dam was found on Olen Burrage's 254 acres (103 ha; 0.397 sq mi) Old Jolly Farm. After finding the dam, they immediately started dragging the dam for the bodies. Around 3 P.M. they uncovered a boot. That afternoon all three bodies were discovered to be the missing civil rights workers. The bodies were taken to the University Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.
Friday December 4, 1964 
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. The FBI detained the following: B. Akin, E. Akin, Arledge, T. Barnette, Burkes, Burrage, Bowers, Harris, Herndon, Killen, Price, Rainey, Posey, Roberts, Sharpe, Snowden, Townsend, Tucker, and Warner. The men were taken to Naval Air Station Meridian where they had their portraits taken. Two did not have their portraits taken; they were H. Barnette and James Jordan, both of whom would later confess their roles during the murder.
The national uproar caused by the disappearance of the civil rights workers led President Lyndon Johnson to force J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI to investigate the case. Hoover's antipathy to civil rights groups caused him to resist until Johnson used indirect threats of political reprisals. One hundred and fifty FBI agents including Major Case Inspector Joseph Sullivan were sent to Neshoba county to investigate.
During the investigation, searchers including Navy divers and FBI agents discovered the bodies of Henry Hezekiah Dee, Charles Eddie Moore, 14-year old Herbert Oarsby, and five other Mississippi blacks, whose disappearances in the recent past had not attracted attention outside of their local communities.
The disappearance of the three activists captured national attention; it took 44 days for investigators to discover where they had been buried. 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".
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".
For a while, the trail went cold. When the FBI offered a $25,000 reward for news of the workers' whereabouts, a break came in the case. After paying at least one participant in the crime for details, the FBI found the men's bodies on August 4. They were buried in an earthen dam on Olen Burrage's Old Jolly Farm, 6 miles (9.7 km) southwest of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Schwerner and Goodman had each been shot once in the heart; Chaney, a black man, had been beaten and shot three times.
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
Known as "Mr. X", the identity of the informant was a closely held secret by the government for 40 years. In the process of studying the case, journalist Jerry Mitchell and teacher Barry Bradford uncovered his identity: Maynard King, a highway patrolman who had been tipped off by Klansman Pete Jordan.
Mafia assistance 
In 2007, Linda Schiro testified in an unrelated court case that her late boyfriend, Gregory Scarpa Sr., a capo in the Colombo crime family, had been recruited by the FBI to help find the civil rights workers' bodies. She said that she had been with Scarpa in Mississippi at the time and had witnessed his being given a gun, and later a cash payment, by FBI agents. She testified he told her he had threatened a Klansman by placing a gun in his mouth, forcing him to reveal the location of the bodies. Similar stories of mafia involvement in the case had been circulating for years, and had been previously published in the New York Daily News, but had never before been introduced in court.
Because Mississippi officials refused to prosecute the killers for murder, a state crime, the US Justice Department, led by prosecutor John Doar, charged 18 individuals under the 1870 US Force Act 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. 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".
"To many", a longtime resident once acknowledged, "it will always be June 21, 1964, in Philadelphia."—Cagin & Dray, We Are Not Afraid, 1988
For much of the next four decades, no legal action was taken on the murders.
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, 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.
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.
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. 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.
2005 trial, verdict, and appeal 
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. Afterward she said to the press,
You're treating this trial as the most important trial of the civil rights movement because two of these three men were white. That means we all have a discussion about racism in this country that has to continue. And if this trial is a way for you to all acknowledge that, for us to all acknowledge that and to have that discussion openly, then this trial has meaning.
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. Killen, then 80 years old, was sentenced to three consecutive terms of 20 years in prison. He appealed, claiming that no jury of his peers would have convicted him at the time on the evidence presented. The Mississippi Supreme Court confirmed the verdict in 2007.
1964 Events of the Mississippi Burning Case 
- January: Bob Moses and COFO (Council of Federated Organizations) announce the Mississippi Summer Project to register blacks to vote.
- February, 15: Founding meeting of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi.
- April 24: KKK burns crosses at 61 separate locations across Mississippi.
- Memorial Day: Michael Schwerner and James Chaney speak at Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Neshoba County and urge its all-black congregation to register.
- June 14: Andy Goodman and other student volunteers attend training session for Summer Project volunteers in Oxford, Ohio. Also in attendance are CORE members Schwerner and Chaney.
- June 16: Armed KKK members assault leaders of Mt. Zion Church.
- June 17: Klan burns Mt. Zion Church to the ground, one of twenty black churches in Mississippi to be firebombed in the summer of 1964. FBI begins its investigation into the church bombings codenamed "MIBURN", for "Mississippi burning."
- June 20: Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman drive from Ohio to the CORE office in Meridian, Mississippi.
- June 21: Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman drive to the site of a burned church in Neshoba County. On their way back to Meridian, they are arrested by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and taken to the county jail in Philadelphia, Miss. In a conspiracy with local members of the Klan, Price releases the three from jail at 10 pm. The civil rights workers' station wagon is overtaken on a rural road, the three are beaten and shot and their bodies buried in an earthen dam.
- June 22: The FBI begins its investigation into the disappearance of the three civil rights workers. Joseph Sullivan is appointed to head the investigation.
- June–July: The FBI interviews about 1,000 Mississippians, including an estimated 500 members of the KKK.
- June 23: President Johnson meets with Attorney General Robert Kennedy and others to discuss an Administration response to the crisis in Mississippi.
- June 24: Prominent black leaders, including James Farmer, John Lewis, and Dick Gregory, meet with Neshoba County official in Philadelphia.
- July 2: Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil rights Act of 1964 into law.
- July 10: J. Edgar Hoover arrives in Jackson to open a Mississippi office of the FBI.
- July 31: The FBI learns the probable location of the bodies from a Neshoba County citizen for thirty thousand dollars.
- August 3: A search warrant is obtained to look for bodies in an earthen dam at the Old Jolly Farm owned by Olen Burrage.
- August 4: Bodies of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman are discovered.
- October 13: Klan member James Jordan confesses his involvement in the conspiracy to the FBI and agrees to cooperate in its investigation.
- November 19: Klan member Horace Barnette confesses and describes actual shootings.
- December 4: Nineteen members of the conspiracy are arrested and charged with violating the civil rights of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman.
- December 10: A U. S. Commissioner dismisses charges against the nineteen.
- Outrage at the murders aided passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act.
- Numerous memorials have been erected to the three civil rights activists.
- 1989, on the 25th anniversary of the murders, 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.
- Along with the trial and conviction of Edgar Killen in 2005, journalists and investigators in Mississippi continue to work to solve other murders associated with the civil rights years, as in the 2007 trial and conviction of James Ford Seale for the 1964 kidnapping and deaths of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore.
Cultural references 
In film 
Several films dramatized the events of that summer. In 1974, a CBS made-for-television movie aired, Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan, co-starring Wayne Rogers and Ned Beatty. This was followed in 1988 by Mississippi Burning, with Willem Dafoe and Gene Hackman; and in 1990 by Murder in Mississippi, starring Tom Hulce, Blair Underwood and Josh Charles. The sympathetic portrayal of FBI agents in the first two movies 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.
A 2008 documentary entitled Neshoba details the murders, the investigation, and the 2005 trial of Edgar Ray Killen. The documentary features statements by many surviving relatives of the victims, other residents of Neshoba county, and other people connected to the civil rights movement. The film also contains footage from the 2005 trial.
In other media 
- 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.
- Tom Paxton included the tribute song, "Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney", on his 1965 album, Ain't That News.
- Simon & Garfunkel's song, "He Was My Brother", was dedicated to Andrew Goodman, who was their friend and a classmate of Simon's at Queens College.
- In the novel Song of Susannah by Stephen King, Susannah Dean reminisces about her time in Mississippi as a civil rights activist. She thinks about making love to James Chaney and singing the song "Man of Constant Sorrow".
- The murders were depicted by Norman Rockwell in an illustration titled Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi) published in Look in June 1965 as part of a series on civil rights.
- In the first episode of Season 4 of Mad Men, Don Draper dates a girl who mentions knowing Andrew Goodman, which is the first indication of what year Season 4 takes place.
- Richard Farina's song, "Michael, Andrew and James", performed with Mimi Farina, was included in their first Vanguard album, Celebrations for a Grey Day, released in 1965.
See also 
- http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/mississippi/e1.html,American Radio Works. Retrieved 19, 2012.
- 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.
- Don Whitehead (September 1970). "Murder in Mississippi". Reader's Digest: 196.
- Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "June 21, 1964". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. [page needed].
- Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "June 21, 1964". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 2.
- Seth Cagin, Philip Dray (1988). "?". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. ?.
- Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 282.
- Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "The Forty-Four Days". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. pp. 377–378.
- Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 287.
- Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 283.
- "Olen Burrage Dies at 82; Linked to Killings in 1964".
- Don Whitehead (September 1970). "Murder in Mississippi". Reader's Digest: 194.
- Seth Cagin, Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 278.
- Seth Cagin, Philip Dray (1988). "Rock Cut Road". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. pp. 285–286.
- Howard Ball (2004). "COFO's Mississippi 'Freedom Summer' Project". Murder in Mississippi. University Press of Kansas. p. 62.
- Seth Cagin; Philip Dray (1988). "The Forty-Four Days". We Are Not Afraid. Bantam Books. p. 238.
- Don Whitehead (September 1970). "Murder in Mississippi". Reader's Digest: 214.
- David Nevin (December 1964). "Day of Accusation in Mississippi". Life. pp. 36–37.
- "Neshoba Murders Case—A Chronology". Arkansas Delta Truth and Justice Center. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
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Further reading 
- Mississippi Burning, by Joel Norst. New American Library, 1988. ISBN 978-0-451-16049-2
- The "Mississippi Burning" Civil Rights Murder Conspiracy Trial: A Headline Court Case, by Harvey Fireside. Enslow Publishers. 2002. ISBN 978-0-7660-1762-7
- The Mississippi Burning Trial: A Primary Source Account, by Bill Scheppler. The Rosen Publishing Group. 2003. ISBN 978-0-8239-3972-5
- Three Lives for Mississippi, by William Bradford Huie. University Press of Mississippi, 1965. ISBN 978-1-57806-247-8
- We Are Not Afraid, by Seth Cagin and Philip Dray. Bantam Books. 1988. ISBN 0-553-35252-0
- Witness in Philadelphia, by Florence Mars. Louisiana State University Press. 1977. ISBN 978-0-8071-0265-7
- "The Mississippi Burning Trial" by Douglas O. Linder, University of Missouri–Kansas City
- "After Over Four Decades, Justice Still Eludes Family" – video report by Democracy Now!
- FBI file on the case