Remembering James Chaney, Voting Rights Hero and Martyr
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From the African American Registry
James Chaney was born on this date in 1943 in Meridian, Mississippi.
During Freedom Summer in 1964, Chaney worked with an interracial team, including New Yorkers Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, to organize a community center in Meridian and to register African Americans for voting.
On June 21, 1964, with two Jewish associates, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman working with the CORE Mississippi Freedom Summer project, the three set out to investigate a church bombing in Longdale, MS, a potential site for a Freedom School teaching literacy and voter education. As the three of them were driving back to Meridian, police in Philadelphia, MS, detained them. Chaney was arrested for speeding and Schwerner and Goodman were arrested as suspects in the church bombing. No phone calls were allowed nor were any of them allowed to pay the fines.
The FBI recovered the bodies of the murdered men from an earthen dam on August 4.