The Freedom Summer Murders

by Don Mitchell

This account of the murder of Civil Rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman... read more

This account of the murder of Civil Rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwermer in Mississippi in June, 1964 starts by delving into the lives of the three men to understand the roots of their social justice activism and how they came to be working together on Civil Rights in Mississippi at the start of Freedom Summer in 1964. Chaney grew up in the area. Schwermer was from New York. Though both were young, they were veterans of civil rights work in Mississippi. Goodman was on his first trip there, having signed on to be a Freedom Summer volunteer. The narrative then looks closely at the investigation into their disappearance, complicated by the complicity and silence of local law enforcement and white community leaders involved in or tied to the Ku Klux Klan, and then at the trials — the first one in 1967, the second one in 2005. The ugliness of racism comes through loud and clear in the investigation and initial trial, but forty-one years after the murders, when the second trial took place, there is hope inherent in the markedly changed attitudes. Don Mitchell conducted a number of interviews in addition to drawing on ample additional source material to pen this arresting account full of the tension of the times. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015

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