On June 21st 1964, James Earl Chaney, along with two civil rights activists, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were murdered in Mississippi. As members of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) the young men were sent on a mission to assist in voter registration and the desegregation of Mississippi (aka Freedom Summer.) While on their way back to CORE headquarters, Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman were killed by members of the KKK. It wasn’t until 1967 that the Federal Government was able to get justice for the 3 men when they arrested 10 for conspiracy. Seven men were convicted and three were acquitted.
I was re-inspired by this story when I re-watched Mississippi Burning last night. I am always taken aback by the strength in those who died for civil rights. Each story is unique yet painfully similar. While all the brutal stories from the fallen soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement have not been told; it is through stories such as James Chaney’s that allow me to count my blessings everyday. I thanks James Chaney and the people who stepped out of their comfort zone to fight for what was right.
“I walk in the footsteps of giants.”