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RIP Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman

“Mississippi Burning” murders, 52 years ago, of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.

They were abducted and killed – shot at close range then buried in the foundations of a dam – by Ku Klux Klansmen outside Philadelphia, Mississippi.

The three were working with the Congress of Racial Equality to persuade African Americans to vote in the southern states.

An investigator with the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission suggested their disappearance might be a hoax – until the bodies were discovered 44 days after their deaths.

After the Mississippi state government refused to prosecute, the federal government in 1967 charged 18 individuals with civil rights violations; seven were convicted and received relatively minor sentences.

Edgar Ray Killen was eventually charged by the state of Mississippi and convicted of three counts of manslaughter in 2005. He is serving a 60 year sentence.

The three were posthumously awarded the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

 

Picture source: Federal Bureau of Investigation via Wikimedia