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Chaney, Goodman & Schwerner

 

Andrew Goodman

(November 23,1943 - June 21, 1964)

 

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Andrew Goodman was born and raised in New York City, one of three sons of Robert and Carolyn Goodman, in an intellectual and socially-aware family. An activist from the age of 15, he graduated from the progressive Walden School there. He then attended the University of Wisconsin for a year before transferring to Queens College, New York City, where he was a classmate of Paul Simon. With his brief experience as an off-Broadway actor, he originally planned to study drama, but switched to anthropology.

 

Goodman was intelligent, unassuming, happy, and outgoing.  He grew up as the second of three sons in a liberal household on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Goodman attended the progressive Walden School, widely known for its anti-authoritarian approach to learning.  While a high school sophomore at Walden, Goodman traveled to Washington, D. C. to participate in the "Youth March for Integrated Schools."  As a senior, he and a classmate visited a depressed coal mining region in West Virginia to prepare a report on poverty in America.

 

After graduating from Walden, Goodman enrolled at Queens College in part because of its strong drama department.  Soon, however, his longing for commitment led him away from his interest in drama and back to politics.  In April 1964, Goodman applied for and was accepted into the Mississippi Summer Project.  Although not seeing himself as a professional reformer, Goodman knew that his life had been somewhat sheltered and thought that the experience would be educational and useful.

 

He volunteered, along with fellow activist Mickey Schwerner, to work as part of the "Freedom Summer" project to register blacks to vote in Mississippi. Having protested U.S. President Lyndon Johnson's presence at the opening of that year's World's Fair, Goodman then left with Schwerner to develop civil rights protest strategies at Western College for Women [now part of Miami University] in Oxford, Ohio. In mid-June, Goodman and Schwerner were then sent to Mississippi and began registering blacks to vote.

 

On the night of June 20,1964 the two reached Meridian. There, they were joined by a black man named James Chaney, who himself was a civil rights activist. On the morning of June 21, 1964 the three of them set out for Philadelphia, Neshoba County, where they were to investigate the recent burning of a local black church, the Mount Zion Methodist Church.

 

The three (Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman) were initially arrested by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price for allegedly driving 35 miles over the 30 mile per hour speed limit. The trio was taken to the jail in Neshoba County where Chaney was booked for speeding, while Schwerner and Goodman were booked "for investigation."

 

After Chaney was fined $20, the three men were released and told to leave the county. Price followed them on state route 19 to the county line, then turned around at approximately 10:30 p.m. On their way back to Meridian, they were stopped by two carloads of KKK members on a remote rural road. The men approached their car and then shot and killed Schwerner, followed by Goodman, and finally Chaney.

 

Eventually, the Neshoba County deputy sheriff and conspirators were convicted by Federal prosecutors of civil rights violations, but were never convicted of murder. The case formed the basis of the made-for-TV movie Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Kuk Klux Klan and the feature film Mississippi Burning.

 

On September 14, 2004 the Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood announced that he was gathering evidence for a charge of murder and intended to take the case to a grand jury. On January 7, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was arrested and found guilty of manslaughter - not murder - on June 21, 2005, exactly 41 years to the day after the murders.

 

Goodman Mountain, a 2,176 foot peak in the Adirondack Mountain town of Tupper Lake, NY, where he and his family spent their summers, is named in Andrew Goodman's memory. "Those Three are On My Mind" (Pete Seeger) was written to commemorate the three victims, and the Simon & Garfunkel song "He Was My Brother" was dedicated to Goodman.

 

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[Freedom Summer] [Chaney, Goodman & Schwerner] [James Chaney] [Andy Goodman] [Michael Schwerner] ["Mississippi Burning" Case] [USA v. Price] [Voting Rights] [History of CORE - Text version]

 

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