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
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
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
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
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
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
"I couldn't tolerate it," she said. "I'm older, sure, but I
can still go on doing things."