Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mississippi Burning

Recently, both Federal and Mississippi authorities closed the books on one of the most notorious murder cases of the civil rights era.

Vanita Gupta, who is head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division reported: "The Justice Department has investigated this case three times over 50 years and has helped convict nine individuals for their roles in this heinous crime."

The decision means that no other suspects in the "Freedom Summer" murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964 will be prosecuted.

All three of those men were all civil rights workers, who were registering African-Americans to vote, when they were ambushed by a gang of Ku Klux Klan members on a rural road.  Their bodies were found 44 days later, buried in a earthen damn after an extensive FBI investigation.  Those killings were the subject of the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning."

Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were investigating the burning of a black church, when they were taken into custody for speeding by a sheriff deputy.  After being released from the county jail, a KKK mob tailed their car, forced it off the road, and shot them to death.

In 1967, prosecutors convicted eight defendants for violating the federal criminal civil rights conspiracy statute.  None served more than six years in prison.  The plot leader Edgar Ray Killen, a part-time Baptist minister, avoided prison in a trial, in which the jury hung 11-1 for conviction.  The lone holdout said she couldn't convict a preacher.

In 2005, the wheelchair-bound 80 year old Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter in the “Mississippi Burning,” murders.  Reportedly, he is still in prison.  The trial in which Killen was finally convicted, and sent to prison was based on new evidence unveiled in 2000.


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