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Friday, June 20, 2014 Previous | Next

Mississippi Burning: 50th Anniversary of KKK Murder of 3 Civil Rights Workers

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Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the killing of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, a pivotal moment in the 1960s struggle for equality.

On June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were ambushed by a gang of Klansmen. The three were beaten and shot, their bodies found weeks later buried in an earthen dam. They had come to Mississippi to register African-American voters as part of the Freedom Summer campaign.

A number of Klan members were convicted on minor charges, with none serving more than six years. It took 41 years before a murder conviction was handed down in the case, with former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen found guilty of manslaughter in 2005.

Democracy Now! aired a special report on the murder case in 2010, which was featured in the documentary, "Neshoba: The Price of Freedom." Although dozens of white men are believed to have been involved in the murders and cover-up, only one man, a Baptist preacher named Edgar Ray Killen, is behind bars today. Four suspects are still alive in the case.

In this report, we air excerpts of "Neshoba" and speak with its co-director, Micki Dickoff. We are also joined by the brothers of two of the victims, Ben Chaney and David Goodman.

We also speak with award-winning Mississippi-based journalist Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion-Ledger, who has spent the past 20 years investigating unresolved civil rights murder cases, as well as Bruce Watson, author of the book, "Freedom Summer: The Savage Season that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy."

Click here to watch this special report.


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