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Andrew Goodman was born on this date in 1943. He was a white Jewish-American civil rights activist.
He was from a well-known liberal New York City household. His family’s friends included Alger Hiss and Zero Mostel. While studying at Queens College, Goodman joined the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and volunteered to participate in its Freedom Summer campaign. Goodman was sent to Meridian, Mississippi, and on June 21, 1964, he and two of his friends, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, went to Longdale to visit Mt. Zion Methodist Church, which had been fire-bombed by the Ku Klux Klan because it was going to be used as a Freedom School.
Upon returning to the Meridian CORE office, Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price arrested them. Later that evening, they were released from the Neshoba jail only to be stopped again on a rural road where a white mob shot them and buried them in an earthen dam. When Attorney General Robert Kennedy heard that the men were missing, he arranged for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to go to Mississippi for answers. On August 4 that year, agents found their bodies buried at Old Jolly Farm.
In October, Ku Klux Klan member James Jordon agreed to cooperate with the investigation. Eventually, 19 men were arrested and charged with violating the civil rights of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney. Sheriff Lawrence Rainey and Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price were included in the charge. On February 24, 1967, Judge William Cox dismissed 17 of the 19 indictments. The Supreme Court overruled him, and the Mississippi Burning Trial started in October 1967.
On October 21, 1967, seven men were found guilty of conspiring to deprive Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney of their civil rights and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to ten years, but Sheriff Lawrence Rainey was acquitted. In 2005, Edgar Killen was arrested and convicted of his part in Goodman's murder.
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.