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You've probably noticed that we're observing the 50th anniversary of many events in the 20th century struggle for Civil Rights nowadays. Today, we observe one of the more somber anniversaries. I'll keep it brief.

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Fifty years ago today, three civil rights workers - James E. Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner -- were arrested, held for four hours, and then released by officials in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The next day, they were reported missing, as this story from the New York Times archive explains.

Here's the FBI poster:

They were of course murdered by white segregationist Mississippians. Their bodies were discovered 44 days later, on August 4, after an informant tipped the FBI. As the BBC explains:
On 13 October 1964 James Jordan, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, told FBI agents he had witnessed the murder and was willing to testify. A total of 19 men were arrested and charged.
On 24 February 1967 Judge William Cox dismissed 17 of the 19 indictments but he was overruled by the Supreme Court and the so-called Mississippi Burning trial took place in October 1967.

It emerged that the three young men had been arrested by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price on 21 June, then released from Neshoba jail in the middle of the night and attacked and killed by the KKK as they drove out of town.

Among those convicted were Deputy Sheriff Price, who got six years in jail. Ku Klux Klan leader Sam Bowers and KKK member Wayne Roberts were sentenced to 10 years each.

Yes, martyrs, and if we really DID have a civic religion all three would have been made saints by now.

I know, heavier than the usual fare, but when you have a 50th anniversary or a 100th anniversary, you go with it. I'm writing this Monday as I wait for the USA to take the pitch against Ghana, and I'll be visiting newpioneer when this publishes, so I'll try to stop in. Happy Saturday, all!

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