This past Monday evening President Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the family members of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner the three that were murdered on June 21st, 1964, just a couple short weeks prior to the signing of the civil rights act by President Johnson. This small but grateful token of gratitude is to me, one of the most moving Medal of Freedom awards to date by any Presidential administration.
There were many others that received awards too this year such as, Stevie Wonder, Ethel Kennedy, a number of democratic legislators and others, but the medals to the families of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, made my heart swell and dampened my eyes as I’m sure it did many other Americans. These three men are in the class of those who gave all for others fundamental rights and deserve recognition for their dedication to the civil rights movement during those turbulent times.
Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) members that were setting up voter registration drives and freedom schools in the south. The movie Mississippi Burning is based upon the story of these three freedom riders/civil rights activists as well as several other works of literature. CORE has the detailed the events leading up to the murder of these noble three young men’s lives by the KKK in Mississippi and brief bios of the three men. I have included an excellent video that gives a great synopsis of the events leading up to their murders by the Jim Crow Museum below. God bless the families these young men left behind and may America never forget their endeavors for justice, equality and freedom.