57th annual memorial service for Civil Rights Workers

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner
Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The 57th annual memorial service for civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman & Michael Schwerner was held at the Historic Mt. Zion United Methodist Church on June 20th.

The three men were ambushed and murdered in Neshoba County on June 21, 1964, by the Ku Klux Klan.

“We just like to commemorate the three young men because if it hadn’t been for them coming here, checking out Mt. Zion trying to get people here registered to vote, they would probably still be alive today. So, we try to do something to remember them, and we did this monument in their honor,” said Memorial Service Organizer, Jewel McDonald.

I talked with one organizer whose parents had been beaten before the murder of the men and the burning of the Mt. Zion church.

“As they were leaving out of the church, they got down the road just a little ways and some men, they beat up my papa and my mom tried to get out the car to help him. All of them had guns in their hands and aiming them at my momma’s head. She was surrounded by guns, scared and there was nothing she could do but stop and pray,” said Memorial Service Organizer, Evelyn Calloway.

A special addition to the service were speakers from the James Lawson institute including Civil Rights Activists James Lawson.

Lawson received a prestigious award for his work in Civil Justice.

“It was a great honor for me to accept this award on Reverend Lawson’s behalf for Civil Rights and social justice, it’s part of the National Civil Rights Conference. Reverend Lawson has been working since the late 50′s on civil rights and social justice in the south, the southeast, and the last 40 years in Los Angeles County. It is a great honor he’s a great man. He is still going strong at 92. If it were not for COVID he would be here with us in person, but it was great to have him here virtually,” said James Lawson Institute Project Manager, Daniel Lee.

The institute said looking at history and revisiting places where atrocities took place and highlighting those, can prevent repeating those events in the future.

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