Murders Around Mississippi

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Thursday, June 16, 2005


You are invited to attend

There is a wonderful event in Neshoba County this weekend in celebration of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. I'm posting the announcement that includes directions on how to get there. This is the "alternate" celebration and we hope to see you there.

Longdale Community Center

41st Annual

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner

Memorial Service

"A Full Measure of Truth and Justice"

Longdale Community Center
County Road 632
Neshoba County, Mississippi

June 19, 2005, 1:00 P.M.

You are invited to attend the 41st annual Memorial Service for the three slain civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. The service will be held on June 19 at 1:00 pm at the location of the former Longdale community center on County Road 632 in the Longdale community in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The location can be reached from Philadelphia by going east approximately 2 miles on highway 16, then turning left on county road 482 and proceeding about 7 miles, then turning right on county road 632 and proceeding for about 1 1/2 miles. The former community center site is on the right.

Although the formal service will begin at 1 p.m. we encourage people to come as early as 10 a.m. and visit with old and new friends.

The service will be conducted outdoors on the Steele family’s land. There is ample shade and ample parking. Since we will have a tent, in the event of rain, there will not be a problem. The community on the road people will travel to get to the site is friendly to our cause. There will be much and varied food, from barbeque to healthy salads, for attendees. Thanks in advance to the food committee.

This will be an event for remembering, conversation, exchanging thoughts and ideas, strategizing and calling for justice.

Concerns and Issues

We shall remember and honor James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

We shall address issues that are of concern in the year 2005, including:

“Why only Killen?” More people were complicit. At least 8 men who faced federal conspiracy to deny civil rights or related charges in connection with the 3 murders in the ‘60s (4 of them were convicted.) are alive. They should be prosecuted also.

There were at least 8 other bodies found when the FBI was looking for Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman. We insist that the federal and state governments investigate those murders and prosecute the guilty parties.

There will be a Call for Justice for a long roll of murders in Mississippi that have never been addressed, including murders that occurred decades ago, right up to those that have occurred very recently. Families and friends of all those who know of unsolved murders are especially invited to attend.

Governmental misconduct and involvement of federal, state, county, local, law enforcement, business, religious and civic bodies in racism and violence, from long ago until the present, will be addressed.

Persons who attend will have the opportunity to have their personal recollections and stories videotaped.

There will be discussions of present and future strategy for overcoming white supremacy and racism which is still a huge problem, and for obtaining justice for all who have been murdered by white racists in Mississippi.

Speakers and Program Participants

Confirmed speakers thus far for this year's service are:

Margaret Block - native of the Mississippi Delta; veteran of the civil rights movement, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committe (SNCC); sister of fellow civil rights worker Sam Block; teacher and oral historian; after many years in California presently living back home in Cleveland, Mississippi.

Ben Chaney - Director of the James Earl Chaney Foundation; native of Meridian, MS; younger brother of slain civil rights worker James Chaney.

Rev. James Lawson - Considered to be the leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence within the US civil rights movement and continues today as an advocate for the power of collective nonviolent struggle in furtherance of campaigns for peace, justice, freedom, equality, and human rights. In 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee he mentored a number of young students who were future leaders of the Civil Rights Movement including Diane Nash, Marion Barry, James Bevel, and John Lewis. The activists trained by Lawson launched a series of sit-ins to challenge segregation in Nashville's downtown stores in 1960. These activists and others from Atlanta and elsewhere in the South joined to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1968, while pastor of Centenary Methodist Church in Memphis, Reverend Lawson served as chairman of the sanitation workers' strike committee. He invited Dr. King to Memphis in April 1968 to dramatize their struggle. He continues to train activists in nonviolence and to work in support of a number of causes, including opposition to the war in Iraq, and workers' rights to a living wage.

Rev. Advial McKenzie - Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Quitman, Clarke County, Mississippi.

Curtis Muhammad - Civil rights movement veteran (SNCC) and native Mississippian. In the early 1960s he worked in voter registration and direct action projects throughout Mississippi. Bodies of work that he helped organize include the Mississippi freedom vote, R.L.T. Smith Congressional Campaign, Jackson Bus Boycott, Adult Literacy, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Freedom Corps, Mississippi Freedom Labor Union, and Tent City. From his early days in the movement he learned how to be a freedom fighter for life.

Diane Nash -Chairperson of the student nonviolent sit-in movement in the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters (Nashville, 1960). One of the founding students of SNCC (1960). Coordinator of the Freedom Ride from Birmingham to Jackson in 1961. Director of the direct action arm of SNCC in 1961. Worked in voter registration and direct action projects in many counties in Mississippi. Activist in the peace movement that worked to end the Vietnam War. Co-developer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's (SCLC) initial strategy for the Selma Right-to-Vote movement. Recipient of the J.F. Kennedy Library Distinguished American Award and of the L.B. Johnson Library Civil Rights Award. (Ms. Nash says that even though she received the awards, in fact, they belong to all movement participants.) A native and current resident of Chicago she currently works in support of several issues related to liberation and peace.

George Roberts - Long-time human rights activist. Native of Kemper County, Mississippi. President, Kemper County NAACP.

Dr. Cleveland Sellers - a native of Denmark, South Carolina and presently history professor and Director of African-American Studies at the University of South Carolina and a fellow in the North Carolina Institute of Politics at Duke University. He participated in some the major civil rights activities of the period: helped plan the March on Washington in 1963; as a field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee based in Holly Springs, Mississippi he participated in Freedom Summer of 1964 and the challenge of the all-white Mississippi Democratic Party; and as SNCC program chair he participated in the March Against Fear in 1966 in Mississippi. Dr. Sellers marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Ala., was jailed in Georgia and Louisiana, and spent time in federal prison for refusing to be inducted for the draft. His protest against all-white draft boards led to their being desegregated. He was one of 27 people wounded in a 1968 clash between state troopers and South Carolina State University students over segregated public accommodations. Three students died in what is known as the Orangeburg Massacre. Dr. Sellers was the only person jailed as a result of the incident. He was convicted of inciting a riot and served seven months in jail. He was pardoned in 1993 and the governor later apologized. Dr. Sellers is co-author of the civil rights movement classic The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC. Dr. Sellers has stated, "My commitment is beyond whatever the obstacles and distractions were, including the suffering and disappointment. I thought it was more important to achieve the goal of helping move humanity forward."

Bernice Sims - Ms. Sims began work in Civil Rights Movement while a teenager in Meridian, Mississippi. Early on she worked under the leadership of Medgar Evers and Charles Darden. Later she worked closely with Matt "Flukey" Suarez, James Chaney, and Michael and Rita Schwerner in Meridian. During those early years she was a member of the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). She is a professional social worker, artist, actress, teacher, and writer. In 1989 Ms. Sims became the first African-American trustee for Hempstead, New York.

John Steele - Human rights activist and Neshoba County native. The Steele family worked closely with James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. The family has been the key organizers in the annual memorial services from the beginning and through 40 years. John Steele, his mother and his sister are the only three church members still living who were at Mt. Zion Methodist Church the night of June 16, 1964, when church members were beaten by Klansmen and the church burned.

Jimmie Travis – native of Mississippi and veteran of civil rights movement in Mississippi. He was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In February 1963, on the highway outside Greenwood, Mississippi three whites in a car pulled alongside of and fired a burst of shots from a machine gun into a car containing SNCC leader Bob Moses, Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) voter registration director Randolph Blackwell of the Voter Education Project, and SNCC worker Jimmie Travis. Mr. Travis, the driver, was seriously wounded in the neck and shoulder. He is presently associated with Visions Physical Therapy in

Jackson, MS.

Rev. C.T. Vivian - Rev. Vivian whose civil right activism began in the 1940s continues today, tirelessly working for the progress of African Americans and the civil and political rights of all peoples. He founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, organizing the first sit-ins there in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. Rev. Vivian was a rider on the first "Freedom Bus" into Jackson, Mississippi, and went on to work along-side Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his Executive Staff in Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, Nashville, the March on Washington; Danville, Virginia; and St. Augustine, Florida.

Hollis Watkins - Native of Mississippi. Civil rights movement veteran, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Co-founder and President of Southern Echo, Inc., a leadership development, education, training, and technical assistance organization headquartered in Jackson, MS. Hollis Watkins is a powerful force in the efforts to carry on the unfinished business of the civil rights movement.

Edward L. Whitfield - from Little Rock, Arkansas, where after years of segregated education he attended Little Rock Central High School graduating with highest honors in 1967. He was the first African-American Presidential Scholar invited to the White House from Central High. While in high school he was the State President of the Arkansas NAACP Youth Council, participated in demonstrations challenging Jim Crow practices, and was early peace activist opposing the Vietnam War. In 1969 at Cornell University he became the chairman of Cornell’s black student organization in a very turbulent period of struggle for black studies, and he became a national officer in the newly formed national black students organization, SOBU (Student Organization for Black Unity). Mr. Whitfield left Cornell University to work full time with SOBU and the newly formed Malcolm X Liberation University in North Carolina. After the closing of MXLU, he remained in Greensboro, North Carolina to do labor and community organizing work. He continues to work particularly in the areas of education and peace and justice. Mr. Whitfield is the Co-chair of the Greensboro Peace Coalition, and has been heavily involved in the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Commission which has been investigating the 1979 murders of community activists by Klansmen, that is known as the Greensboro Massacre. He was recently state co-facilitator for the successful March 19 anti-war demonstration in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In addition Ed works full time as a Senior Electronics Specialist in a manufacturing plant

Civil rights story circles:

John O'Neal, veteran of the civil rights movement in Mississippi (SNCC), will bring folks from the Colorline Project to do small story circles for those who wish to tell their stories on video about our civil right history, particularly in this case and others as it relates to the murders and lynchings of our fellow freedom fighters.

Freedom Singing:

In addition to formally addressing the gathering, Hollis Watkins will facilitate freedom singing by the entire gathering.

Additional speakers, including more civil rights movement pioneers and veterans, family members of the three young men, and others, will be added.

As always at the memorial service, there will be an invitation for others who may wish to speak.

We hope you will join us.

Please share this information. The service is open to the general public.


Curtis Muhammad John Steele

(504) 236-4703 (925) 497-9868

Diane Nash John Gibson

(773) 821-5423 (870) 972-9248

Rev. C.T. Vivian

(404) 505-0472

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