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On Thursday, Edgar Ray Killen died in prison at the age of 92. Killen, a former pastor and Ku Klux Klan leader, was the only person to face state murder charges in the killings of three civil rights workers in 1964.
Here are nine things you should know about the case known as the ‘Mississippi Burning’ murders.
Day - Schwerner - Chaney - Congregation - Mount
2. On Memorial Day of 1964, Schwerner and Chaney spoke to the congregation at Mount Zion in rural Neshoba County about setting up a ‘Freedom School,’ a type of alternative middle and high school that helped to organize African Americans for political and cultural engagement. State-level Klan leadership had previously decided to murder Schwerner, and so attacked and beat members of the church thinking he was there at a meeting. The Klan returned that night and burned the church in an attempt to lure the CORE activist back to the area.
3. On June 21, Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman drove from Meridian to Neshoba County to talk to the church members at Mount Zion. As they were passing through Philadelphia, Miss., they were pulled over a deputy sheriff and arrested for speeding. They arrived at the jail at 4 pm and were released around 10 pm that night. The activists were followed by a lynch mob of at least nine men, including a deputy and a local police officer.
Klansmen - Schwerner - Chaney - Goodman - Men
4. When the Klansmen caught up to Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman, they forced the men into one of the mob’s vehicles and drove them to a secluded county road. Goodman, a black man, was beaten with chains, castrated, and shot while Schwerner and Goodman, the two white activists, were forced to watch. When Schwerner cradled Chaney in his arms (see image below) a Klansman asked, “Are you that n***** lover?” When Schwener replied, “Sir, I understand your concern”...
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