Attention: Murder in Mississippi

It has been said by many and understood by most that the only reason the murders of three young civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964 received national attention was because two white men were murdered. In fact, many historians would say that the only reason freedom summer got as much attention as it did was because so many white, young, college kids were bussing down to Mississippi. Michael Schwerner’s wife, Rita, 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.”

(full article)

On the other hand, the character Charlie, in Bourbon on the Border, uses just that reason to motivate his trip to Mississippi as May relays to Rosa:

“One day I stopped to listen and when he [Charlie] started on how it wouldn’t be fair for us to let these white kids fight our battles for us, I said, trying to be funny, fair to who? A couple of people standing around laughed, but Charlie looked at me real serious and said, fair to the memory of our ancestors’ bones.” (I,1)

One cannot singularly credit the murders of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman or the college students of all colors who rode down to Mississippi that hot summer of 1964. It remains a truth that due to the combined efforts of all freedom riders of every race the freedom summer provided a giant spring board for the advancement of colored persons in the deep South.


One Response

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