The Mississippi Civil Rights Workers Murders were the 1964 slayings of three political activists during the American Civil Rights Movement.
"Missing": Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner (FBI poster)James Chaney, a 21-year-old black man from Meridian, Mississippi, Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old anthropology student from New York, and Michael Schwerner, a 24-year-old social worker also from New York, were the victims of the political assassinations. The murders of the three men occurred in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on June 21, 1964, following a campaign by the men to register blacks to vote. Local racists ordered the men to leave by sundown or they would be shot. Although the men clearly intended to leave in peace, they were hunted down and murdered by a lynch mob made up of local police officers and townspeople, including the sheriff of Neshoba County, Cecil Price, as well as with several members of the Ku Klux Klan. Forty-four days later the men's bodies were found, along with the charred remains of the car they had been driving, abandoned on a Choctaw Indian reservation. Eighteen male suspects were put on trial in 1967, but most of them were set free later (see U.S. v. Cecil Price et. al.).
In 1964, William Bradford Huie told the story in his book Three Lives For Mississippi.
The murders came to worldwide public attention twice in recent years. In 1988 the story was dramatized in the film Mississippi Burning. Despite the sympathetic portrayal of the FBI agents in the movie, civil rights activists at the time found them unwilling to take action against those who were behind the racist violence. On January 6, 2005 Edgar Ray Killen, one of the ringleaders in the murders, was arrested on three counts of murder. Harlan Majure, former mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi, provided an alibi for Killen during the trial, and asserted that the Ku Klux Klan was a "peaceful organization". Killen was convicted on three counts of manslaughter on June 21, 2005, after the jury opted for manslaughter instead of murder.