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42nd Annual Memorial Service for
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner
and all Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs
and Tell It Like It Was and Is Conference
Longdale Community Center site
County Road 632
Neshoba County, Mississippi
June 17 - 18, 2006
You are invited to attend the 42nd Annual Memorial Service and Tell It Like It Was and Is Conference. We shall remember and honor the three slain civil rights workers, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and all Mississippi civil rights movement martyrs.
The services and conference will be held on June 17 and 18 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, Mississippi 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.
We encourage people to come as early and stay as late as they wish to visit with old and new friends.
The service and conference activities will be conducted outdoors on the Steele family’s land. There is ample shade and ample parking. A backup indoor site has been arranged, so there will not be a problem in the event of rain. 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 in the murders of Mississippi civil rights movement martyrs and for strategizing for continuing the struggle against racial oppression of people of color in Mississippi.
Concerns and Issues
We shall remember and honor James Chaney, Andrew Goodman Michael Schwerner, and all Mississippi civil rights movement martyrs.
We shall address issues that are of concern in the year 2006, including:
“Why only Killen?” One year ago on January 6, 2005, Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen was indicted on state murder charges. He was convicted on three counts of manslaughter on June 21, 2005. Eight other men who were indicted by federal grand juries in the 1960s on conspiracy to deny civil rights or other charges in connection with the murders of the three civil rights workers are still living. But the state of Mississippi brought charges against only Killen and then at the late date of 2005. If the still living people responsible for the murders of the young men are not held accountable by the state of Mississippi, it sends a message that even in 2006 Southern white racists can get away with murder in the United States of America. These eight previously charged men should be thoroughly investigated, and indicted and prosecuted by the state of Mississippi as appropriate.
There were at least 8 other bodies, all African-American males, found when the FBI was looking for Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman. We demand 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 presentations and discussions of present conditions and future strategies for overcoming the huge problem of white supremacy in its many forms in present day Mississippi, and for obtaining justice for all who have been murdered by white racists in Mississippi.
Speakers and Program Participants
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. (Confirmed)
Nina Boal - Civil rights movement veteran who worked in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1965 and 1966. (Confirmed)
Ben Chaney - Director of the James Earl Chaney Foundation; native of Meridian, MS; younger brother of slain civil rights worker James Chaney. (Confirmed)
Rev. Advial McKenzie - Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Quitman, Clarke County, Mississippi. (Confirmed)
Carolyn Hickman - native of Longdale, Neshoba County, Mississippi; memories of the times and the three civil rights workers.(Confirmed)
Leslie McLemore - Jackson, Mississippi city council member: professor of political science and director of the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute at Jackson State University; Mississippi civil rights movement veteran (SNCC). (Confirmed)
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. (Confirmed)
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. (Confirmed)
George Roberts - Long-time human rights activist. Native of Kemper County, Mississippi. President, Kemper County NAACP. (Confirmed)
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." (Pending/not yet confirmed)
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. (Confirmed)
David Sims - civil rights movement veteran; native and current resident of Meridian, Mississippi. (Confirmed)
George Smith - Project Director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Meridian, Mississippi operation from 1964 to 1967. (Confirmed)
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. (Confirmed)
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 the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement.(Confirmed)
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. (Pending/not yet confirmed)
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. (Confirmed)
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. (Confirmed)
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, family member of other Mississippi civil rights martyrs, 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