Mississippi Burning

The bodies of civil rights activists Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman were found after they had been missing for six weeks in the vicinity of Philadelphia, Mississippi, on this day in 1964.

From the bbc report of the time:

The three young men had left the CORE office in Meridian six weeks ago to investigate the destruction of a black congregation church in Longdale, Neshoba County because it was used as the site for a “freedom school”.

The school was set up by Mr Schwerner as part of a wider civil rights campaign in Mississippi teaching black children, among other things, black history and the philosophy of the civil rights movement.

The Mount Zion Church was burned down on 16 June by members of the KKK searching for Mr Schwerner.

His wife, Rita, made an emotional statement to newspapers today.

She said: “My husband, Michael Schwerner, did not die in vain. If he and Andrew Goodman had been negroes, the world would have taken little notice of their deaths.

“After all, the slaying of a negro in Mississippi is not news. It is only because my husband and Andrew Goodman were white that the national alarm had been sounded.”

The FBI operation launched to investigate the disappearance of these three men was code named “Mississippi Burning” … which is also the name of a pretty good movie about the incident.

In the following, Gene Hackman (the guy with the blade) is the good guy:

White people are so funny.


  1. #1 Matt Penfold
    August 4, 2008

    Sadly the BBC reporter, Charles Wheeler, who covered much of American Civil Rights movement died recently. He is to my mind the best reporter I have had the pleasure to watch, although I am to young to have caught most of his work. I have seen archive footage of him reporting from the American South, and he simply let the facts speak themselves. No moralising, or feigned outrage, just fairly reported what happened and what all the sides believed.

  2. #2 Arj
    August 4, 2008

    Wowww… really brought back some memories with this post — that was one of the first civil rights stories that really gut-wrenched me as a young teenager, and has never really let go. Worse yet, 40+ years later there are still plenty of pockets of the south not unlike what Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman encountered at that sad time in 1964.