Mother of slain civil rights worker Goodman dies - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Mississippi Burning Case

Mother of slain civil rights worker Goodman dies

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, and Schwerner's

mother, Anne Schwerner, died in 1996.

Carolyn Goodman and Fannie Lee Chaney 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. He had been acquitted of federal charges by an all-white

jury in the 1960s.

After the 2005 verdict, Goodman said the real heroes were those

who stood up to the hate groups.

"I know a lot of people in Mississippi who have risked their

lives," she said. "I would say those are the most important

people in my life. All the people who have stood up and the victims

of the Klan."

In her testimony, Goodman told jurors about how her son wanted

to go to Mississippi for the Freedom Summer of 1964 to help

register black voters.

On June 21, 1964, she said, he sent his parents a postcard from

Meridian. Several people in the courtroom wiped tears from their

eyes as Carolyn Goodman read a copy of the postcard aloud: "This

is a wonderful town and the weather is fine. I wish you were here.

People here are wonderful."

She told jurors she had hazy memories of being in Mississippi

after her son was killed. "I remember the red soil and I remember

he was buried here," she said. "It was all so horrible and

terrible."

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.

During his state trial in 2005, witnesses testified that Killen

went to Meridian to round up carloads of Klansmen to ambush

Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman, telling some of the Klan members to

bring plastic or rubber gloves.

Then, witnesses said, Killen went to a funeral home to have an

alibi while the fatal attack occurred. The three bodies were found

weeks after they disappeared, buried in a red-clay dam in rural

Neshoba County.

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.

She was a lifelong activist who in 1999 at age 83 was arrested

in a protest against the killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed

African immigrant who was shot by police.

In an interview with The Associated Press, she said Diallo died

because the officers who fired at him may have perceived him as a

threat "in the same way that these white people in the South felt

threatened by those who were going down" to register black voters

in 1964.

"I couldn't tolerate it," she said. "I'm older, sure, but I

can still go on doing things."

Survivors include her sons Jonathan and David.

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