August 19, 2007

Slain Jewish Civil Rights Worker's Mother Dies

Note: Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were Jewish. This was downplayed in media reports, but noted in academic circles. Received by email:

Carolyn Goodman, the mother of one of three civil rights workers killed by the Ku Klux Klan in the "Mississippi Burning" case, died Friday. She was 91. Goodman, who lived to see a Klan leader convicted in her son's death two years ago, died at her Manhattan home, her son Jonathan said.

Goodman's son Andrew was killed on June 21, 1964, in central Mississippi' s Neshoba County, along with fellow civil rights workers Michael Schwerner and James Chaney.

Chaney, a black Mississippian, and Schwerner and Goodman, white New Yorkers, had been looking into the torching of a black church and helping to register black voters during what was known as Freedom Summer. They were abducted, shot to death and buried in an earthen dam.

The slayings shocked the nation, helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning."

Chaney's mother, Fannie Lee Chaney, died May 22. Both women testified in the 2005 trial of 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three consecutive 20-year prison terms.

Killen was the only person to ever face state murder charges in the case. Nineteen men, including Killen, were indicted on federal charges. Seven were convicted of violating the victims' civil rights.

None served more than six years. Killen's federal case ended with a hung jury after one juror said she couldn't convict a preacher.

Carolyn Goodman was a psychologist who founded a program to help mothers leaving mental hospitals learn parenting skills. She set up the Andrew Goodman Foundation in 1966 to carry on her son's legacy.

Survivors include her sons Jonathan and David.