53rd anniversay service for Philadelphia civil rights workers

Published: Jun. 18, 2017 at 10:37 PM CDT
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It’s been 53 years since three civil rights workers were killed in Neshoba County. In their remembrance a special church service was held at Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Philadelphia.

There was a candle lighting and wreath laying ceremony for James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. They were killed by the KKK during Freedom Summer. It was an emotion moment for Jewel McDonald because she remembered when Klan’s members attacked her mother and brother at Mt. Zion looking for one of the civil rights workers.

“He said they had to have had brace knuckles because their hands were so hard from hitting him upside the head. After they finished beating him, they went on the other side and pulled my mamma out of the truck and started to beat her,” said McDonald.

The three civil rights workers were trying to help black people register to vote that summer. Anne Armstrong from the Miami University in Ohio, was among three people who received a civil rights and social justice award. Armstrong is the creator of a virtual app simulating what happened.

“You learned that three people went missing and they might be dead and at the end of the experience, you have the choice. Will you get on the bus and go to Mississippi?,” said Armstrong.

The keynote speaker was Judge Arthur L. Burnett Sr. who played a significant role in the Brown vs Board of Education to desegregate schools.

“I identify with putting my own life on the line. In the Brown vs Broad of Education with Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner,” said Burnett.

In 2005 the person responsible for planning the killing of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner was found guilty in a state court 41 years after the crime.