On Sunday June 21 Michael Schwemer, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman stood in the ruble of what was going to be their first freedom school. The church they had organized it at had just recently allowed it. They had a great fear that something like this could take place. Now their church was nothing, but a pile of ruble Several church members where beaten by Klansmen and the 3 men where now in danger. The men who burned down the church were now looking for Schwerner.
Schwerner 24 and a social worker from NY had worked for CORE since January and became used to all the threats. Schwerner had a short beard and in the South no respectable southern man wears facial hair.
Church to host the school.
Chaney 21 the eldest of a traveling plasterer and a domestic servant. He had been suspended from school at 16 years for wearing a NAACP button. By the time he was working for CORE he knew very well to keep quite about his views. It’s a very dangerous type of work for a black southerner. Chaney who was behind the wheel when he and Schwerner left the church knew every aspect of the town.
The third man with them was Andrew Goodman who was also from NY and majored in anthropology. This day was his first and last day to volunteer for the summer project. Goodman participated in the march on Washington at 14 and by 16 picketed at Woolworth’s in NY to support the sit-ins.
When the three men left the church they were headed to Philadelphia, Mississippi. Just near the town limits they where stopped by the Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price. Chaney was arrested for speeding and the others for the arson of the church.
These arrests set on a long planned scheme. Immediately KKK members gathered for assignments. One member was sent to contact a local bulldozed operator.
Price held the three without allowing them to use the phone. Around 10 that night they were released and told to go directly to Meridian.
The men had not gone far before they were pulled over again. But this time Price was joined by two cars full of Klansmen. First Chaney was hit with a black jack (a pouch with heavy objects inside) as he stepped out of the car. All three were told to get in the back of Price’s patrol car. They then were driven to a secluded area and each shot at point black range. All three bodies were dropped off at a farm where a dam was in the process of being built.
The bulldozer operator who was hired dug out a hole and built the dam over the bodies. Work of the missing has sent shock through the world. Hours after they disappeared as you read these top officials of the U.S. Justice Department are still searching for all of those involved. Over 100 FBI agents contributed to finding their bodies.